I was fortunate enough to see the end of an era recently. I trekked from Champaign, Ill. to Titusville, Fla. to watch the Space Shuttle Atlantis make its final flight out of earth’s atmosphere. The eight hours spent sitting in by the sea wall were completely worth the 32 seconds of flight. It was one of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve seen (see footnotes).
It was also a moment of great sorrow, yes sorrow. I’ve been dragged to air shows and museums all of my life. My father’s father was an air force firefighter and WWII vet. They lived near a bombing range. My dad, therefore, had been obsessed with planes and flight his whole life. He has every issue of the magazine Air & Space.
This is him being goofy:
This is one of his smaller telescopes.
One of my favorite pictures of him and me when I was a kid is us standing by an SR-71 Blackbird at the Air and Space Museum in Dayton, Ohio. It’s one badass plane. It was featured in the most recent X-Men movie, though they did a hack job of representing it’s abilities. Anyway, my dad’s a big air and space nerd, and some of that trickeld down to me. Especially the space part of things.
The idea of giving a big middle finger to gravity and heading for the stars thrills me. It makes me so proud to be a human to think that we saw something floating in the sky, decided to strap a few dudes on top what is essentially a bomb, and go there just to poke around and pick up a few rocks. The nerve that took is the same that makes people look at tall mountains and think, wouldn’t it be neat if I could climb that? What a curious, wonderful species.
That’s why I’m so glad I got to see the space shuttle launch before the program was K.Oed. And that’s why I can’t wait to see what else we, America, have in store for exploring the great beyond. I mean, look at this puny thing the Ruskies have been using to get to space.
It’s a damn toothpick! Holy hell, we can do better than that. Sure, we’ll use it while we HAVE to, but soon, we’ll be traveling to space in glorious, large and almost opulent American style again, and I can’t wait.
NONE OF THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS ANY SARCASM.*
SERIOUSLY, NOT EVEN THAT STATEMENT, OR THIS ONE.