Posted by: hockeygrl1 | July 8, 2011

End of an era

Yes I feel that today is the end of an era. April 1, 1981 – I was 8 years old. I remember sitting in Becker Elementary School. I was in 2nd grade. I was amazed that this rocket was going in to space. It was there in no time. I was trying to put this all together when I knew driving to grandmas in Crystal took an hour. How could they get in to space faster than that??

Yes, I know I’m old now. I’m seeing the end of the space shuttle after 30 years. I’m 38 now and almost in to a new era for me…. of 40’s yuck!

I witnessed both shuttle failures as they happened. The one on January 28, 1986, the Challenger. I was home sick that day, watching from my living room. I was in 7th grade. I remember mom calling home after she watched it at work. She worked for Honnywell so they watched the launches since they made some parts and components on the shuttles. I was crying and in shock. I was looking forward to the possibility of hearing the teacher, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, speaking to us about space travel. It seems odd that I was so affected by it. I knew that space travel was dangerous. There had been accidents and failures all along, but this one hit home. I saw it as it happened. The others were just stories in history books.

I already had the space bug. I think I had it starting in 2nd grade after seeing that first launch. I wanted to know as much about space and becoming an astronaut that I could. I did get good grades…. OK, they just came naturally to me. I never really tried in high school. If I would have, I know I would have had a higher ranking at graduation. I went to visit the Air Force Academy in Colorado. I seriously thought about applying, but I had glasses and that stopped my dreams of being a pilot and visiting space.

Remember the movie “Space Camp”? I so wanted to go to space camp. I don’t know why my parents never sent me. It must have been the cost. We never had much extra money. Just enough to get by.

I’m sure things have changed now, but I’ve also changed. But thinking on it, they would have found lupus if I tried. A strict physical like astronauts go thorough would have found it. With lupus and my many medications, there would be no space for me.

I witnessed the most recent shuttle accident on February 1, 2003 also. It was a Saturday, that’s how I saw it. Otherwise, I would have been at work. It was just as shocking to me. I was hoping that somehow they got out, but it wasn’t true.

In 2006, we scheduled our Disney vacation around a shuttle launch. I was thrilled! We had tickets to view from the viewing area so we’d be close. I was finally going to feel the power of the engines as they went off to space. There was this stupid hurricane that got a little close to Florida and they cancelled the launch. I was crushed! We still did tour Kennedy Space Center and got as close as we could to the shuttle. I could see it! It was sitting on the launch pad, empty, but there. The red cone of the external tank showing over the top of the tower. It was beautiful! My kids couldn’t and still can understand my excitement. (Brandon is rolling his eyes at me tearing up over the last launch.)

We also got to see the memorial to the astronauts that have been lost. I finally got to pay my respects to those that gave their lives to explore space.

I know some of you don’t think our government should be funding space travel, but think of all the technology we use now. Don’t you think some of this come to us from trying to explore space? Not to mention the experiments that are currently on the space station or have been done in the space shuttle. Looking at the list it has everything from deploying satellites that send communications around the world to mapping and taking pictures from space to monitor the changes taking place on our planet. Look at the list, it goes on and on… http://history.nasa.gov/pocketstats/sect%20B/P&E.pdf

So, today, I am reflecting on the end of the shuttle program. I’m sad, but also excited to see what will come next. Who will develop the new way to travel in space and what will it look like? I hope it’s just as cool as the shuttle and looks just as powerful as the Saturn 5 rocket I stood next too. I get chills just thinking about it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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