It was a once in a life time opportunity...literally. I was one of the lucky 150 people chosen to attend the NASA tweetup for the final Space Shuttle Launch. Many people don't know that I am a science geek and proud of it. It started with my love for all things Star Wars and Star Trek. There was even a point in my life that I thought that I would be a singing astronaut. As I got older, I discovered that I my natural gifts for singing would out weigh all the studying I would need to do to comprehend the complexities of Science. So I chose music, but never lost the wonder and awe of space and space travel.
I was in first grade when I watched my first shuttle launch. It was the Challenger Incident. It was a sad day, and yet, I remember being ever so curious about how they were about to launch people into space. More importantly, I wondered if they would ever do it again! And of course they did!!! So imagine my heart jumping out of my chest when I found out that I was chosen to attend the final launch...which was the ending of the Space Shuttle Program.
The two day event consisted of our group meeting astronauts,administration, and Elmo.
Next to the launch itself, one of the best parts was the tour of the facilities...which included the Vehicle Assembly building and driving down to Launch Pad 39A. And here's the deal, when you watch this on TV for so many years, you understand that these places and things are big, but you don't really get it, until you are standing in the center of the VAB and you realize that the Statue of Liberty can fit inside and still have over 250 feet lift.
And of course there was the shuttle itself. It is beautiful, amazing, astonishing...the list could go on. She is a marvel to behold. There is nothing in the world like it. When I saw it for the first time, I was just frozen in amazement. My admiration for the people who dreamt, designed, and constructed this vessel, grew 100 more then ever before....and we hadn't seen it take off.
The day of the launch had arrived. When we concluded our tour the day before, they were not sure if Atlantis was going to fly due to the weather. But we all believed that she had to do! She just had to make her final launch! So as we waited, we were greeting by more NASA Officials, talked about future space projects, previewed a song in honor of Atlantis, and more. Then the moment arrived! We were go for lift off. As were waiting for the countdown to resume, a gentleman told me that if at all possible, I needed to just watch the launch with my own eyes and not through the lens of a camera or recorder. The man was right...however, i was able to guide my camera with my gaze and take some really great photos of lift off.
To all the NASA Team members who made this Tweetup possible, I offer my sincere gratitude for this experience.
To all the NASA employees who spent 30 years developing, maintaining, the Space Shuttle program, Thank you for your years of service.
To the Astronauts, Thank you for dreaming big and reaching for the stars...literally. And for inspiring a new generation of space travelers.
To Anderson Cooper and the team of CNN, I am sorry for unplugging one of your plugs. It was my clumsy feet and my desire to meet Anderson, AKA, the Silver Fox!!! I am a fan of your work and am proud to be #cooperized (for more on this last comment, you would have go on twitter and search the hashtag #cooperized...that's all I can say!)