Twas the Shuttles last Christmas

by Ken Kremer on December 27, 2010

Memorial displays to all five Space Shuttle Orbiters were recently mounted inside the Space Shuttle Firing Room #4 - above the Shuttle countdown clock. These tribute displays highlight and honor the significant achievements from the actual space voyages of the individual Orbiters launched from the Kennedy Space Center over three decades –starting with STS-1 in 1981. Shuttle mission patches since the return to flight in 2005 are mounted below the tribute displays. Click to enlarge. Credit: Ken Kremer.
Read the shuttle tribute poem by Terry Sibile, below.

To mark the occasion of the Shuttle’s last Christmas, space shuttle worker Terry Sibile drafted a touching poem titled; “T’was the Shuttle’s Last Christmas”.

For your enjoyment Terry’s poem is reprinted below; as it appeared at Florida Today. The poem initially was circulated via email at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and other NASA sites across the US.

According to this article at Florida Today, Terry is a member of the engineering team dealing with cranes, platforms and doors which abound at the space center.

Only 2 or 3 flights remain before the shuttle is retired – at the peak of its performance – probably around mid-2011. NASA is still evaluating whether the budget will support flying the STS-135 mission to the International Space Station.

So it’s unlikely the shuttles will see another Christmas. Sibile’s poem thus marks another installment in the string of sad and bittersweet “lasts” for the shuttle program – “Our spirits were low … and soon we’d all go.”

The Space Shuttle Launch team at KSC recently created tribute displays to honor the achievements of all 5 Space Shuttle Orbiters and all the NASA and contractor workers involved. See photo above. Sibile’s poetry poignantly puts these displays into words.

‘Twas the Shuttle’s last Christmas by Terry Sibile

‘Twas the Shuttle’s last Christmas
and our spirits were low,
For the program was ending
and soon we’d all go.

We’d processed the Shuttles
with infinite care
And followed each mission
as if we were there.

We made every effort
to achieve all our goals;
We offered our talents,
our hearts and our souls.

Our work was much more
than a meager career;
‘Twas an honor and privilege
beyond all compare.

As this marvel of science
was applauded worldwide,
We looked on each Shuttle
with unfettered pride:

Columbia, Challenger,
Discovery, and then
Atlantis, Endeavour
all ferried brave men

And women to realms
past the confines of Earth,
Uncovering knowledge
of infinite worth.

We rejoiced with each mission’s
success, and we grieved
For the losses too painful
for us to conceive.

And over the years,
something wondrous took place:
We became kindred spirits,
united by Space.

And so, as we part,
I will bear a great loss.
And hope in the future
our paths again cross.

But until then, my friend,
this wish I confide:
Happy Christmas to all
— we had a great ride!

Check out this 360 degree panoramic view from inside Firing Room 4 showing all five Shuttle tribute displays; recorded during my visit with Space Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach. Leinbach led the effort to create the tribute displays. Courtesy of


Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC,, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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