Godspeed Space Shuttle

Some posts are well thought, crafted works I invest all kinds of time into getting right.  This is likely going to be more of a spew.

Atlantis is scheduled to launch tomorrow for STS-135, the final Space Shuttle launch ever.

I was one when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  Regardless of my age, it still made an incredible impression on my life.  Dad loves space, and he sure passed that love on to me forever since.  I chose a scientific bend to life based upon my love of the space programme.

I have vague recollections of those heady days of the Saturn V.  It was really the Shuttle that I remember.  The Grande Dame, Columbia, was my favourite of the lot.  I remember when she went up on her maiden flight.  I remember her flying on the back of a 747 returning to KSC.  I cried all day when she broke up.  I miss her still, I feel a very powerful emotional tie with her.

I remember when I was in high school.  I was a little late getting to school January 28, 1986 and one of the first things I heard when I walked through the doors was “Challenger blew up.”  I immediately left school, went home, and watched the coverage the rest of the day.

But my best memories are the recent ones.  Watching Discovery launch on STS-128 together with my children.  She was beautiful beyond beautiful that day.  It meant so much more being with my kids.

Watching Atlantis go up on STS-125 to fix my favourite piece of space hardware, the Hubble Space telescope.  Mike Massimino became a real hero to me.  The astonishment of actually being able to talk with him directly through twitter..  It adds so much value to my life today.

Dare I say my favourite Endeavour mission ever was her last one, STS-134?  It probably should have been STS-130 when she took the Cupola up to the ISS, but seeing her attached to the ISS that final time will be forever memorable to me.  Endeavour always felt like it was inextricably linked with the ISS to me, she’s a remarkably beauty.

Will STS-135 replace STS-125 as my favourite Atlantis flight?  I doubt it.  Needless to say, I’ll be sitting at my desk, watching it on the internet, bawling my eyes out that this will be the final time we get to see such elegance (to use the word of my friend Gina Herlihy) break the surly bonds of earth.  I’ll probably be a little more quiet than I usually am.

I’m feeling a very strange feeling right now.  I’m jealous.  I’m very upset I will never see a shuttle launch in person.  I’m saddened that I’ll never feel the roar of SRB’s propelling our most complicated piece of machinery ever assembled on to orbit.  I’m so, so very sorry I can’t be with the #Spacetweeps, those people I’ve never met and value so very much in my life.  I feel a great divide between myself and @Craftlass, Elizabeth Howell, Andrea, the Talking Space crew, the Spacevidcast crew, all those who love all things extraplanetary and new and unexplored, untried, untamed.  

I’m sorry.  I hate feeling jealous.  I miss you all, I wish I was with you.  Thank you for sharing your experience for me.

Most of all, more than anyone else, I want to give a very special mention to Jen Scheer and @Astrogerly.  The two of you have brought such magnificent love back into my life, a love of space, a love of science, a love of the connections of the people who are behind the greatness we accomplish together.  I cannot begin to describe how enriching it was to see photos of Jen’s work knowing that was and is the epitome of cool in my eyes.  Sitting down and buying you a drink before we all go watch something get launched is definitely something I look forward to doing somewhere down the line.

It’s bittersweet.  But our journey isn’t over yet, we have a universe to discover.  It is going to take our very best to get us there.  Let’s decide what’s next, pick up our tools and get to it.

After we watch one last launch together.  Yeah, Baby!