The Space Shuttle program began in 1981 and signaled a new era in man's attitude toward space. In the past space flights had seemed like grand adventures and the astronauts were hailed as modern-day Magellans. Well no more. Those adventurers of NASA's early days were replaced by scientists, pilots became little more than high-tech truck drivers and with no political will to send anyone further than low-earth orbit the public pretty quickly lost interest. The liftoffs themselves were pretty amazing, but once the little white dot disappeared into the distance everybody went home to watch the video hos on mtv. Sigh.

Still I'm a little sad that the program is coming to an end. Kids need to dream and with nobody venturing skyward (the oh-so-boring truck stop in space known as the ISS doesn't count) it'll be a little more difficult for them to see the future as a place of expanding horizons.

Here's video of that first Shuttle launch in April of 1981.

Learn more about the Shuttle program here.

NASA homepage here.