Posted by: R. Emmett O'Ryan | July 9, 2011

The Shuttle Program – End of an Era

This evening, I saw a replay of what will most likely be the last launch of a NASA Space Shuttle (or as we called them “Orbiters”).  The Shuttle Program has had a very significant impact on those of us in the Silicon Valley for well over 30 years.

Given NASA Ames Research Lab’s location in the Valley, many new technologies that created our high technology industries were either innovations to support the Shuttle Program or were spin off technologies from the Shuttle Program.  So as I watch the Shuttle take off, I started to wonder about the state of technology and new innovation for the future – not only for Silicon Valley but the rest of the US.

It was because of the Shuttle Program that we HAD to innovate to create new technology that probably would not have ever been created.  It HAD to be done and it followed in the footsteps of the previous NASA program – the Apollo Program.

Scientists and Engineers HAD to do the impossible – that which had never been done before.  Was it expensive? Yes.  Was there a great deal of long term benefit? Absolutely!  And this new technology help launch so many new industries, and helped drive a revolutionary economic engine rarely seen.

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