For the space lovers, history buffs and event junkies who do not have tickets to Cape Canaveral for the final shuttle launch, rest assured. NASA will stream live footage on its website while the popular media site Spacevidcast will up the ante with an interactive component that allows users to ask the astronauts and engineers questions via Skype and Facebook. Viewers without access to the live footage can utilize Twitter by following the Atlantis crew or one of the 150 Twitterers chosen by NASA to watch from the VIP box.
Although U.S. officials maintain that space-faring expeditions will continue, for many the retirement of the four remaining shuttles marks the end of the Space Age. Thirty years ago when the first shuttle launched, the communications channels were a vastly different landscape. Telephones were restricted to businesses and residences; people sent messages through snail mail; and encyclopedias were the best vehicles on the information superhighway. Now the products of the one revolution will shepherd out its predecessor— a simple reminder of the dynamic (and often unexpected) nature of progress.
As you watch this historic event from a live stream on your 3G smartphone, consider how much has changed since 1981, and think of the possibilities that have yet to come.
— Nicole Duncan