Were on a mission…

Pastor Matthew Best
5 min readMar 21

When the space shuttle is prepared for a mission, there is a ton of planning. Lots of people are involved. There’s a heavy investment of time, money, and Human Resources. And there’s equipment of course — without the structure and equipment of a shuttle, you aren’t going anywhere after all.

The shuttle takes off and it’s a beautiful sight. Attached to the shuttle is the external tank holding tons of fuel needed for the take off and pulling away from the gravitational pull of the earth. And the booster rockets. There are literally rocket scientists who study this stuff and dedicate their whole lives to the missions of the space shuttle.

Once the shuttle takes off and reaches a certain altitude, the rocket boosters separate from the shuttle. According to NASA’s website, they are jettisoned and fall back to the earth so they can be assessed and reused if possible.

The External Tank stays on longer until it is just about empty, helping the shuttle finish breaking through the rest of the gravitational pull and when it has served it’s purpose, it is then jettisoned at a “preplanned trajectory” where it burns up in the atmosphere. It isn’t reusable, apparently.

The jettisoning of the boosters and the external tank are important so that the shuttle can complete its mission. The boosters and the external tank did their job — they fulfilled their purpose. They were good. And when they had fulfilled their purpose, they were let go of because if they had been held onto longer, they would have put the entire mission in jeopardy. It is a fact that you can’t bring a shuttle back safely to earth with an external tank and booster rockets still attached to it. No matter how cool it might look. No matter how much you like them. No matter how great they worked in the take off. They don’t help with the landing — they are actually a hindrance and frankly a danger. They aren’t designed for that portion of the mission.

NASA is really good at keeping an eye on the importance of the mission. It’s not just going to a location, but also returning back safely, if it involves astronauts. In order to complete the mission fully, there is thoughtful consideration to how the equipment will change along the journey. Some of what you have will have to be jettisoned because it won’t be useful after awhile. It will have worked great for its purpose, but then the situation changes. It will become clunky and a hindrance to the mission. It will become dangerous to the mission and won’t allow for…

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.