Unfortunately, thanks to being a busy mom and writer, I do not keep up on the news just as it happens. So I was not informed ahead of time that the space shuttle Endeavor would be flying around California, perhaps even over my own area. Otherwise, I might have been one of those people standing outside waiting and watching for it to pass by. Perhaps it’s for the best; I simply didn’t have the time to do it.
But reading about the retired shuttle’s fly-by over the state afterward and looking at pictures absolutely warmed my heart. It made me incredibly nostalgic for an era that started in my childhood and has now ended.
When I was probably around seven or eight years old, my grandparents gave me a subscription to the National Geographic children’s magazine, called the World at the time. I remember so clearly where I was living and the room I had when an issue arrived explaining all about the new shuttle program. The issue had a poster, I think, and it included — COOL!! — a cardstock model of the shuttle that I could assemble. I put it together and looked at it in awe. What a neat concept: a new series of “rockets” that would take intrepid explorers into space and then be able to come right back into the atmosphere and glide to landing much like an airplane.
Over the years, I watched the shuttles launch and return with fascination. I have always loved the idea of traveling into space. I will say right now that I would NEVER want to be submerged deep in the water or explore the seas in any way, but I would LOVE to go into space. If I had a spare quarter-mil, I would pay to go on a rocket once those private flights become available. No question. Just think about the fantastic view. I love to fly, and going even higher to be able to see the earth from space would be incredible.
Yes, I remember distinctly when the Challenger exploded. It was a shock to my system to just see it break into pieces in the sky, knowing those astronauts were aboard. We were watching it on television in our school’s cafeteria, and it was so sad to see that tragic event as it unfolded.
But even knowing that those risks were involved in space exploration, I still have a soft spot for the program. There are always risks and dangers involved in new things, and the things we learn outweigh those risks.
So it just broke my heart when NASA announced a few years back that the space shuttle program would be discontinued. I understand its reasoning, but it’s always sad to see an era come to an end.
I told my oldest yesterday that what excites me now is that private enterprises are now leading the way to get more people into space. The federal agencies are working officially on getting people further out into space, which is definitely very exciting and a logical next step. But the idea of finally having the possibility of us normal people being able to go into space, just far enough to get a view of the earth and its continents and landmarks from that far up, thrills me. I’m not a mechanical person; my talents just don’t lie in designing things other than newspaper or web pages. I don’t build space ships. But there are some brilliant engineers out there who do. With all my heart, I say, Go for it! I’d like to get to space before I die.