Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bittersweet Moment for AM~Erica

So anyway...

Yesterday marked something important in [American] history. After 30 years, the NASA space shuttle program launched it's last shuttle mission with the Atlantis. Only with a slight hiccup at T-minus 31 seconds, it lifted off majestically & beautifully.

I remember (vaguely) being awakened early in the morning to watch the very first of the shuttle program take off, back in 1981. I remembered I was in 1st grade. This NASA program has been a part of so many lives...and childhoods, for those 30 years.

I remember, as a kid, going on family vacations (usually tied into one of my dance competitions) & my parents planning trips around that. As I got thinking, we visited the space museum in Hutchinson, KS, space camp in Huntsville, AL...and even the Kennedy Space Center in FL (twice in the same week, I might add). So this program has pretty much been ingrained into my brain from nearly the get-go. Since so many astronauts & engineers that work for NASA say they wanted to be a part of that because of Star Trek...and the fact my dad's a Trekkie...I guess this all makes sense.

With that said, my family made sure to tune in yesterday morning to make sure to watch that last liftoff. And, I will admit, I got choked up. As I was making sure my 13-year-old son was up for it, I was trying to build the excitement of it...and literally got choked up instead. This was a moment where another portion of many of our childhoods are coming to a close. This is a difficult thing to face considering so many of my generation swear we will never grow up...and then we face a moment like this.

However, was our society pretty desensitized to the space program in the last several years? Back in the day, a shuttle launch was a HUGE deal! As of late, we were hearing that a mission was already completed, or they were showing a landing...or we would hear about yet another delay in take off. I feel like so many of us took this amazing program for granted. Not sure how much of it was people, but society & media instead. Now we have so many other channels to watch; too many other websites to check out; schedules are too jam-packed. So sad that the end of it all completely crept up on us. I mean...WHERE has 30 years gone?

Now, going back to when I said I remember watching the 1st lift off of Columbia when I was in 1st grade, I realized I recently said this in a previous post about the Royal Wedding. So, out of curiosity, I Googled when the 1st launch took place. I made an interesting statistical discovery that has a slight Lincoln-Kennedy-type thing going:

In 1981, the 1st NASA space shuttle launch happened in April & the Royal Wedding of Charles & Diana happened in July; in 2011, the Royal Wedding of William & Catherine (Kate) happened in April & the final NASA space shuttle launch happened in July. Oh, along the Lincoln-Kennedy tie-in even? The shuttles are launched from Kennedy Space Center! Talk about a bookend set of events...

You know...I watched the final liftoff yesterday and cried. It's so bittersweet. So amazing what the shuttle portion of the program has done for 30 years, yet heartbreaking that the toys & keepsakes of space though the childhood of Gen X & beyond surrounded the space shuttles.

But...we moved from the rockets/capsules of early space exploration, to the shuttles, now NASA is looking to travel beyond. Yesterday it was brought up that going back to the moon & trying for Mars exploration are in their sights. They did use the term "Deep Space" and they were quoting Gene Roddenberry about finding new frontiers. So cool hearing from astronauts! Maybe we need to work on our Vulcan greetings - looks like some sort of "First Contact" may happen sometime in the future.

For all those kids out there who are looking to be a part of the NASA program...I am so excited for where you all will be able to help take this program! And it is a great partnership that can be kept internationally as Russia is still sending flights into space. So, learn Russian & a few other languages to be able to increase the horizons of human space exploration together!

And to NASA, I say, "Live Long & Prosper."

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica


  1. Hi Erica..
    It's me Tina Chandler! Glad to see someone that stuck with a blog. I am pretty sporatic with mine, need more time and discipline!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Tina! Thanks for reading! I did pretty well with the blog when it started in '07, and then didn't do so well after that. I vowed to do better with it this year! I have done WAY more than the last 3 years put together. LOL!