The Space Shuttle Discovery travelled 148 million miles before being retired last year—that’s the equivalent of flying all the way to the sun and more than halfway back. I saw it last week resting in its new permanent Washington DC home, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where it replaced the Space Shuttle Enterprise last month.
As David Gergen and Michael Zuckerman wrote, the shuttles remind us that we can accomplish great things and overcome great challenges under leaders who unite us. But I think there’s a more practical lesson to learn from the shuttles, too.
The Space Shuttles were made to last, repaired again and again, sometimes even while in space. Their end-of-life is anticipated and planned for: Discovery will now educate museum-goers and inspire the next generation of astronauts.
When it’s critical, we can think ahead. We can build complex equipment that lasts long into the future. We can design for maintenance and repair.