Where do I begin. The end of an era as Atlantis took off towards the heavens. I am sadder than you can imagine to see the end of the space shuttle program.
My mom instilled a love of space and the stars and NASA at a young age. I have watched many shuttle launches. I will never forget where I was when I heard about Challenger AND Columbia. I cried a fair amount then and I cried a fair amount today. I always joke that I am a NASA "groupie". When I meet people that work at NASA I am in awe. I have read countless books on the Apollo program and no matter how cheesy it is I am giddy when I am at Space Center Houston.
I remember the first time I went to Space Center Houston. I was in my early 20s and wasn't feeling my best but marshaled on and did everything I could that day. And then I practically collapsed the next day because I was seriously sick with a sinus infection. I remember when I moved to Houston and realized that the cable channel had NASA TV. Because I was at the home of JSC and NASA! The "groupie" in me was elated.
I am sad that I didn't get to see a launch in person and am sad to see the end of the space shuttle program. I am aggravated that politics is interfering with the exploration of space, something that should be politics free. I am aggravated that NASA constantly gets funding cuts when it costs a fraction of other things in this country costs and is so beneficial. I fear for JSC and its future role in the space program. I can only imagine what the people that actually work at NASA are feeling. An order of magnitude in intensity from what I'm feeling.
I would have loved to see men walk on the moon with Apollo. I would love to see people return to the moon or go to Mars. But I am thankful that I got to see the space shuttle program in its entirety.
Godspeed Atlantis. Godspeed NASA.
UPDATE: A few things I want to share. First there is this blog post by Sarah, a commenter here, on her experience with the shuttle. Sarah is a wonderful writer and you should be reading her blog. Next is this great comic from Dork Tower. I've cried once or twice giving up a car so crying over machines isn't new to me, but it still hits home. And finally I wanted to add a video to the post.