Today NASA is scheduled to launch STS-135 Space Shuttle mission, the final mission in the 30 year Space Shuttle program. This is the orbiter Atlantis on the launch pad on Father’s day when I took my family to Kennedy Space Center to experience as much Space Shuttle as we could without attending a launch.
We had lunch with Jon McBride, a member of the first class of Space Shuttle astronauts who piloted the Challenger orbiter in 1984. We took a VIP tour of the Kennedy Space Center which included an up-close view of the external tanks and the the rotating service structure encased orbiter on launch pad 39A.
I’m sad to see the program end after growing up with it and I am equally sad to miss seeing a launch live. As I sit and watch the final launch live on NASA TV, I’m happy I got to introduce Mirielle to the program that shaped my dreams of real space exploration before it is retired. I also saw that space exploration doesn’t matter much to her yet because there aren’t any big programs, goals or destinations that both capture the imagination and are funded.
Without the compelling story which we’ve had for the past 50 years, a visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is one of the best ways to introduce our children to both the history and posibilites of space exploration.