I had planned the POTENTIALITY of bringing back the space shuttle, but never found the right opportunity (I don’t think I did, did I?). But hiding it under some branches seemed the most appropriate thing.
And yes, Vachel’s line in panel #1 is perhaps the darkest of this strip. As is the theme, actually. It was inspired by hearing that many astronauts suffer depression after becoming earth-bound again, theoretically partly because they know that nothing they ever do will ever be as momentous.
I mean, after doing the greatest feat of your life, and suddenly it’s the day-to-day of going for a walk or playing fetch, that must be a hard transition.