I remember as a kid, being in complete awe of space travel. I often wondered what it would be like to travel into space. I even entertained the idea of becoming an astronaut. Though that’s not the career I pursued, but my brother Richie did in a way. He worked for NASA as an engineer. I would visit him at the Johnson Space Center as well as Cape Canaveral, and the sheer splendor of being inside the center itself and walking past command central was dizzying, exhilarating and breathtaking. All the years of seeing those men on TV (it was only men then) instructing and guiding the crafts on their journey into space and now I was there, it was a real WOW moment for me. Though I couldn’t go into the super classified areas, I did get a chance to experience the zero gravity room. Can I tell you…it was AWESOME!
So when I see the Shuttle Endeavour making its way to the California Science Center through the streets of Los Angeles, it both excites and saddens me because I know it’s the end of an era in conventional space exploration. Yes Richard Branson is putting mega bucks into private space travel, but let’s face it, the majority of people won’t be able to afford the cost. With NASA, you knew, though it was a long-shot, that you at least HAD that shot to become one of the astronauts chosen for the space program.
From a fiscal standpoint, I understand why the shuttles were decommissioned, but there’s still a bit of that young girl inside me that wants to see the lift-offs and landings…sitting around the TV as a family with all eyes glued to the magnificence of it all and it’s a shame that my 11 month old god-daughter will never have that opportunity.
So here’s hoping that future generations will have even more awe-inspiring moments about space…maybe they will actually be able to visit and live on other planets and that will truly be the legacy of the space program. But for now, Space Shuttle Endeavour and all the other shuttles, capsules and those lucky astronauts that were able to live their dreams of space exploration, I bid you a fond farewell and thank you for all the great memories.
In the words of President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962 – Houston, Texas:
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.