The primary purpose of the STS program (the Space Shuttle) was to build a permanent base in earth orbit, from which we could research, and eventually use as a base for future missions to the Moon, and beyond.
The Shuttle was quickly thrust into a changing world. The fall of the Soviet Union changed it’s role, to a degree, to not only build a station for us.. but for all of humanity.
I feel, in the end, they did their role. 5 spacecraft, 135 Missions, 2 horrible incidents… 30 years that, in the end, I loved more than you can imagine.
Thank you, NASA, for the excitement of each launch, the knowledge gained, and the chance to experience, only as an observer, the greatest achievement of the human race.
I may have only been alive for 26 years of it, but for my entire life, the shuttles have been a constant fascination.