I watched Atlantis lift off with sadness. The Space Shuttle Program has been a part of my entire adult life. The first shuttle launch was in April, 1981 when I was eighteen. I’ve always been interested in space exploration. John Glenn orbited the Earth just a few months before I was born. I stayed up really late to watch the first men walk on the moon when I was seven years old. I grew up in central Florida, and we took field trips to the Kennedy Space Center, knew people who worked for NASA and saw launches in person. In fact, my first date with my future husband was to see a rocket launch.
We’ve made amazing progress in my lifetime, although I have to admit when I was growing up I thought we’d have moon bases by now and probably have been to Mars. One of my friends in high school wanted to be one of the first humans on Mars. If NASA had a bigger budget who knows what we could have achieved. Still, I’m thankful for all the things we have, like the Hubble Space Telescope, the hard-working Mars Rovers, and Cassini, and I’m looking forward to what is next.