Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Ignition. We all know it. The ticking down of the NASA Countdown Clock heralds the launch of a rocket or the Space Shuttle (which sadly is no more). Those are also the words that spark the imagination of every child (and grown-up) that has ever looked to the sky wondering what lies beyond the bounds of our little blue marble.
Hand-in-hand with Mission Control counting down a launch is the (aforementioned) iconic and rather large NASA Countdown Clock at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Counting down manned and unmanned space missions alike, the NASA Countdown Clock was originally installed on November 9, 1967. But, now, after 47 years, the NASA Countdown Clock has counted down its last seconds.
NASA has EFT-1, or Exploration Flight Test 1, the first test flight of the new Orion class crew transport vehicle (read: new Space Shuttle), scheduled for December 4 of this year. According to an interview with SpaceFlight Insider, Lisa Malone of NASA, said “The Clock is getting older and it isn’t working as well as it used to. It does need to be replaced, there are some parts that it uses that aren’t manufactured anymore. Nothing is a ‘done deal’ yet…if we’re going to replace this clock, it’d be nice to have the new one out there for EFT-1.”
So, with that, one of the most iconic, newsworthy and imagination-inspiring timepieces on this planet and beyond is being retired. No firm plans are in place for what will happen to the big digital NASA Countdown Clock. But, I’d guess it will end up in a museum… probably the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum or the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, since it is in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Three… Two… One… Zero…