Gerhard Thiele

STS-99

“It’s always sad when something so important, accomplishing so many goals, is leaving for good. But this is a farewell with gratefulness, for all the achievements, and for the small role that I had to play in part in this entire system.

"There are two ways to look back at the Shuttle programme. One is from the technical or engineering point of view, but having flown on the Shuttle there is definitely an emotional aspect as well. That leads to a question: was the Shuttle the right thing to do at the time, was it right to build it and fly it into space? I mean does it make sense to send a 100-tonne vehicle into space just to launch a 20-tonne payload?

"It might be too early to say today what the Shuttle has meant as a vehicle or a tool, either it was well ahead of its time or it was a necessary detour on our way to develop the proper vehicles to go into space.”

Last update: 30 June 2011

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