Friday, July 8, 2011

Last Space Shuttle Launch

Today is a little sad for me because I just watched the last space shuttle launch. I started thinking about all the launches I have seen.  On July 20, 1969 I watched the first moon landing while looking out the window at the moon and thinking "there are men walking around up there right now."  I was at a nursing conference in Nashville, TN when the first shuttle landed.  The person giving the lecture stopped and asked the audio-visual guy to switch to the broadcast of the first shuttle landing....amazing to watch the shuttle Columbia on a huge screen.  My heart was beating out of my chest as the shuttle touched down and the astronauts got out. 

Over the years, I have been fortunate to watch most of the shuttle launches and landings.  I was driving at the time of the shuttle Challenger disaster but was listening to the launch on the radio and remembering the knot in my stomach as the announcer's voice said "something is wrong."

I got to see the shuttle flying piggyback on a 747 as it returned to Florida after a landing at Edwards Air Force Base.  That was impressive. 

I was presenting my dissertation data at a conference in Orlando and was flying home very early in the morning.  I knew there would be a shuttle launch that morning so I got up at 3 am to be at the airport and past security before the launch.  I remember running to the large windows just in time to see the shuttle clear the trees.  It was a clear day so I watched until the booster rockets were released and fell to earth. I sat watching the shuttle Atlantis leave Kennedy Space Center for the last time ever, I was a little sad.  I don't know what NASA has in store for the future, but I feel privileged to have seen so much in my lifetime. 

A cupcake toast to the space shuttles!

Enterprise (test flights only), Columbia, Discovery, Challenger, Atlantis, Endeavor

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