Upon my 9:30 p.m. arrival to Space View Park in Titusville, Fla., tonight I could feel the buzzing energy for the final space shuttle launch. Tents have popped up and chairs set out with prime real estate closest to the water. The focal point is the beaming Atlantis sitting on the launch pad some 11 or so miles away. A ceiling of clouds drifts above which appears to diffuse the light in a god-like, intriguing way.
It’s about 1 a.m. as I write this post curled up in the backseat of my car about ready to call it a night. Or at least nap time.
What’s already been amazing about this adventure is the people I have met in a short time of being here. Some from Florida, some elsewhere in the U.S. and others from Europe. Some of these folks I’ve known from Twitter yet have never met in person while others aren’t Twitterers and I was meeting them for the very first time.
NASA brings people together with a sense of community. Most of us have a special NASA memory whether it was the landing on the moon, that first taste of space ice cream or witnessing a space shuttle launch for the first time.
Being here for the final space shuttle launch is like saying goodbye to a good friend who warmed our hearts for three decades. Oh yeah, tears will be shed when I see the shuttle clear the tower but it’s not the end of NASA or space exploration. There’s an astroid to be examined, Mars to land, the Russians will provide NASA with taxi service to the International Space Station for research, private space industry is racing to the ISS and there’s much more to look forward to.
It’s time for NASA’s space program to evolve. Although we’re bidding farewell to the space shuttle program we’re saying “hello” to something new and exciting. It just may take us a little while to get there.