The Space Shuttle: A True Southern Belle

As of the writing of this post, the shuttle Atlantis is climbing higher into orbit for the final flight of the Space Transportation System – a program given life as John Young and Charles Duke walked the surface of the moon on the Apollo 16 mission, given flight (with Young as commander) in 1981 with the launch of Columbia and now coming to a close thirty years later. While the decisions and the funding that brought the shuttle to bear on America’s space explorations came from Washington, she is no doubt a Southern girl at heart.

Like the Apollo rockets that preceded her, the shuttle is a creature of Southern heritage: from design and engineering at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to engine testing at Stennis in Mississippi to mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston and launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From top to bottom, concept to completion, she is the product of great Southern minds and skilled Southern hands.

And she will be missed. Godspeed, Atlantis.

Space Shuttle Endeavour on the launch pad in April, 2011. (Photo by Wayne Franklin)


  1. Find Some Space in the Rocket City | Real Southern Men - July 8, 2011

    […] you a profile of the godfather of American space flight, Wernher von Braun and paid homage to the Southern states that have contributed to the shuttle’s 30-year history. Now we take a look at space tourism […]

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