I had the opportunity to watch the final Space Shuttle Atlantis launch this morning. Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten up early and checked Gizmodo, I probably would have missed it. It has been a long time since I watched a Space Shuttle launch, I think the last time was when John Glenn went back into space in 1998.
I have long been infatuated with space, NASA, and the Space Shuttle missions. When I was kid I wanted to be either an astronaut or an astronomer. I even went to Space Camp at age 10 and loved every minute of it. I still have the book they gave us of all information on NASA’s history, Space Shuttle mission information, and even lists of meals that were available to astronauts in space. I thoroughly enjoyed being on simulated missions, both in the Shuttle and in Mission Control. I vividly remember the Columbia disaster, hoping that the Shuttle would land on Earth and then coming to sad realization that it was never coming back. I love to watch the move Apollo 13, and still get choked up and worried during the return to Earth scene (If you’ve seen the movie, you what I’m talking about).
It saddens me that today marks the last Space Shuttle launch. Given NASA’s recent history, with all their budget problems and Shuttle disasters, there is no telling what’s next for US space exploration. The future for NASA doesn’t look all that great.
I guess I should count myself lucky that I got to see the last launch in real time. Call me a nerd, but I got goosebumps when it happened. I also shed a little tear when the announcer reminded viewers that it was the last time this would ever happen. Hearing the team members from Atlantis thank Mission Control and all that have worked on the program made me smile. (Told you I was a nerd!!)
Goodbye Space Shuttle program, goodbye Atlantis, and PLEASE come back safely.