Today was the final launch of a space shuttle from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After 135 missions and over 30 years, a space shuttle launched for the final time. Here on the Space Coast the shuttle program holds a place close in everyone’s heart.
This is the 33rd and final mission for Atlantis which first flew on Oct. 3rd, 1985. I was just over 4 months old when Atlantis took flight for the time. I’ve been honored and blessed to have grown up so close to history. These are the moments I will remember forever…
My alarm went off at 6am on this cloudy Friday morning, the 8th day of July. There were speculations on if the launch would even happen today. My friends and I crossed our fingers that all systems would be a go for the 11:26am launch time. By 7:30 we were on the road to Merritt Island. We stopped for a healthy breakfast (me healthy, them not so much) before stalking out our viewing location. Over a half of a million people made there way to Brevard County for this launch, it was one for the record books. I navigated us to a park that was about 15 miles due south of the launch pad. We found parking and settled in with T-minus 2 hours to go.
The photos below are compliments of my friend Shannon, and her fancy pants camera.
My friends and I are sort of space nerds, so we weren’t taking any chances on missing this final launch. I am thrilled I was able to take the day off from work and be a part of history. It’s an indescribable feeling and experience. Breathtakingly beautiful doesn’t do justice. It’s bittersweet on this launch day… happy the weather held off and we got to see it go, but sad it’s all coming to an end.
Atlantis will join Discovery, Endeavour, and Enterprise in retirement; and we will always remember the shuttle and crews of Challenger and Columbia.
Godspeed Atlantis and we’ll see you when you return home.
It’s the ending of an era…