The Space Shuttle Flies Into History: The Best In Online Journalism

With the final launch of the Space Shuttle on Friday, the days were literally numbered for a NASA’s human spaceflight program of 30 years. It was a momentous occasion, and what better way to mark it than by breaking out some great pieces of online, multimedia journalism to commemorate it? Here’s some of the best from around the Web.

The New York Times: “30 Years of the Space Shuttle”

This comprehensive, interactive timeline is a fantastic look at the program’s 30-year history. Arranged by year and orbiter, each mission is depicted by a small, color-coded etch on a long timeline. Mousing-over each etch will bring up a small box that contains the mission patch, a photo from the mission, and a short summary of the mission. With 135 missions to include, this project probably took The Times‘ Jonathan Corum a while to put together.

The Washington Post: “The space shuttle: 1981-2011”

If Ansel Adams took photos of the Space Shuttle, these would be his pictures. Photographer Philip Scott Andrews spent three years photographing the shuttles, in black-and-white, from vantage points that few civilians get to see. He even got access to Space Shuttle Discovery’s flight deck and snapped a photo of a technician running tests. This is a gallery version of this week’s Washington Post Magazine cover story.

Florida Today: “Shuttle legacy”

Kennedy’s Space Center’s hometown newspaper, Florida Today, decided to commemorate the end of the Space Shuttle program with a series of video tributes. Each orbiter has a short video with narration describing its history. The paper also put together an excellent photo gallery with some great historical images of the shuttle program.

The Independent: Interactive infographic of shuttle history

Who doesn’t like infographics? This one, from the British Independent newspaper, takes it to the next level, incorporating some video clips into an already excellent infographic timeline of the shuttle program’s history. It’s not overwhelming, and it’s easy to use.

Bonus: The Associated Press: “One reporter’s look back at the space shuttle era”
There’s nothing really interactive about this wire story. But as a fan of the space program and a journalist, I absolutely loved AP Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn’s first-person account of what it was like to cover nearly 100 Space Shuttle launches for the AP. It clearly is an emotional time for Dunn, a reporter whose longtime beat is essentially going away.