A personal note to go along with the history just completed:
My dad and I drove out to Edwards Air Force Base to see the first drop test of Enterprise. We flew to Florida and camped out on Coco Beach to see the first launch of Columbia. This morning, an alarm woke me and I watched the final landing of a Space Shuttle in HD on my iPad while lying in bed with two cats snuggled nearby.
The Shuttles have been a symbol of hope to me for a very long time, a presence in the background of my life that made me think we might make it as a species. For every pointless war, every religious mass suicide, every person who has ever said the words “feng shui” to me non-ironically, there has been the Shuttle, and the amazing knowledge and experience it’s brought us.
Parts of its legacy still give me hope, still provide that background presence: the Shuttle gave us the Hubble, and it gave us the International Space Station, where six people representing the space agencies of the United States, Russia and Japan watched a live feed of Atlantis’s final landing.
Oh, but I’ll miss those old birds.