Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lessons learned from the Space Shuttle Program

As I sit watching the final landing of Space Shuttle Atlantis, 18 minutes from the final touchdown, I come to reflect on what the space shuttle program has taught us.

Yes, it is the end of an era. The end of a glorious era that started 30+ years ago. We have gained tremendous knowledge from the space program. Hubble Space Telescope is not possible without the Space Shuttle.

How the world has changed! Collaboration is the future.
When the program was started, America was the undisputed leader in space exploration. It took bold steps to put man on the moon. It took bold steps to bring the Space Shuttle, which is the size of 2 semi trucks end to end, into orbit. America was able to do this alone 30 years ago. Now, America depends on its one time rival Russia to reach the Space Station.

The international collaboration on space program started when the International Space Station program was started. Many countries contributed to complete the construction of the ISS. Modules from different countries are interconnected and functional as one.

I am sure when first started, America had doubt whether other countries can produce a space module that is up to its standard, we had doubt if the modules can connect. Yet, upon completion, there is a connected ISS and it is airtight!

Collaboration and exchange of information is what made this possible. NASA and America decided that the cost of doing this alone is too high, that co-orporation and collaboration can achieve the mutual goal faster and less expensive.

If NASA can do it, will large corporations learn from this? Especially in the cyber security world, can we react fast enough alone to counter the attacks?

I am starting to see companies reselling each other's products. That's a good sign, but is this good enough? Until we can mimic the ISS where astronauts can pass freely from one module to the other modules, we are not functioning efficiently. Image if they have to put on a space suit each time they go from one module to the next. That's what reselling other products are like. Until we can pass from one module to the next freely, we are still not utilising each others strength to its full potential.

With the end to the Space Shuttle, some people will retire and some will carry on to accomplish new goals. Either way, it is the future and it is collaboration!

The NASA commentator's remark on Atlantis touchdown was "Its voyage at an end". But I would add that "it is the beginning of a new era". 

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