Exploring space through the eyes of the men and women who launched it


“We put our heart and soul into it. »

When we were shuttle -A new original documentary from WLRN, tells the intimate stories of the ups and downs of the Space Shuttle program as told by those who made it possible. When we were shuttle delves into the humanity behind the program, getting a unique, local look at how the Shuttle program has affected life in the Sunshine State, from the booming aerospace industry it supported to the dramatic impact of the decision to withdraw Shuttle at the end of the program in 2011.



In the words of former Kennedy Space Center Deputy Director James Jennings, the space shuttle was one of the greatest programs this country has ever had. “No matter where you were when the space shuttle launched – just for that brief moment – everyone was hoping and praying for the same thing: that we were going to be successful.” And yet, from the time NASA first shared its vision of the shuttle as a safe, frequent, and affordable ferry to space, its track record would demonstrate the exact opposite: estimated costs of $20 million would skyrocket to $1.6 billion per flight. ; planned schedules of 60 missions a year never exceeded nine, and a machine that was repeatedly touted as safe and reliable resulted in the deaths of fourteen astronauts (the deadliest space vehicle on record to date).

Flying for thirty years, there is great disagreement over whether the Space Shuttle, as the world’s first reusable spacecraft, was truly a success story. In this feature documentary, When we were shuttle will get to the heart of its legacy by tapping into the humanity behind the Shuttle program – hearing first-hand from some of the exceptional men and women who worked behind the scenes to make it fly. What did they think made the program special? Why was it necessary? How has their involvement with Shuttle impacted their lives, their families, and the greater Space Coast Florida community? Through memories and personal archives, the latest film from public television WLRN explores their fondest memories and their darkest hours: from the launch and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope to the construction of the International Space Station, in going through the loss of the shuttles. Challenger and Colombia in accidents that were ultimately deemed preventable and, in many ways, provided the impetus for the fleet’s early retirement.

Rockwell workers install circuits

For all its flaws, one of the biggest takeaways from the Shuttle program is its attempt to be a great equalizer, both in space and on the ground. The astronaut corps during the shuttle years was intentionally more representative of America as a whole, more diverse in terms of race, gender, cultural and occupational backgrounds. During the shuttle years, NASA and its contractors also tried to increase the number of women and minorities in its ranks, from blue-collar and administrative positions to those in management and leadership.

Spectators watch the shuttle launch

Unlike other documentaries which take a top-down approach, focusing on the stories of astronauts and figureheads, When we were shuttle delivers a unique and intimate portrait of the Space Shuttle years. As NASA and now private sector companies strive to make space travel more profitable, reliable, and ultimately more routine, the social history captured in this story provides viewers with a more holistic framework for understanding our collective history of flight. spacecraft, in turn giving us a better platform to determine not only where we might want to go in our continued exploration of space, but How? ‘Or’ What we are going to do it.


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