(Supposedly, three-quarters of a million people are going to drive down to Florida this week to try to watch the Atlantis make the final launch of the space shuttle program. This post is dedicated to them.)
Quite a while back, a child asked me why I referred to the space shuttle as “her.”
I explained that it was a long-standing naval and aviation tradition since time immemorial. I posited that early naval and air crews were predominantly male, and that because they loved their vessels, they referred to them as if they were women.
A couple of months ago, though, I watched on television as Endeavour launched on her final mission, not terribly long after I had gone down to Florida for a few days to wait for her to fly. And I had some further thoughts on the space shuttle.
She’s complicated and complex and temperamental, and she doesn’t do anything until she’s good and ready. But when she does, she does it like no one else.
She doesn’t care how much time you have to spend waiting for her. But when you do, she’s always worth it.
She’s fragile and delicate and requires incredible amounts of care. And she’s stronger and more powerful than anything you’ve seen.
She’s the very definition of high maintenance. And she’s beautiful and graceful enough to bring a tear to your eye.
She burns hot enough to melt lead, and goes from that to ice cold in minutes. But she always protects those in her care.
There’s nothing like her in the world. And she’s always a woman to me.