Final Launch and Life’s Fuel

by Geoff on July 8, 2011


As I type this, I’m sitting on a bus heading to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitors Center and the NASA Causeway to view the final launch of NASA’s Space Transportation System, Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135.

I have mixed emotions this morning….
– Worried my car will get towed because of where it’s parked 🙂
– Missing the great experience I had at the NASA Tweetup for the prior launch and viewing it from KSC’s press site
– Nervous for a weather induced scrub
– Sad to see the shuttle program coming to an end
– Proud of the great work the shuttle workers have done for over 30 years

Mostly, thrilled to have another opportunity to see a Space Shuttle launch. Viewing a launch always seemed like one of those things I just would never do, in spit of being a huge fan of NASA and the Space Shuttles. Really, when you compare it to other lifetime checklist items, it’s pretty easily attained for someone living in this country. It just took a commitment by me and my family that we would make this happen for me.

It was easier for STS-134 since I was picked for NASA Tweetup. That gave me access to Kennedy Space Center’s press site and terrific tours (see earlier posts for info and pics). I still had to make it down to Florida and pay my own lodging. We made that happen twice since that launch was scrubbed long enough for a return trip.

After Endeavor’s launch, I didn’t plan on coming back for the final launch. I took almost 3 weeks off work already in June to co-direct Montreat Youth Conferences weeks 1 and 2 ad had already taken time off and sent money ons my prior two launch trips. However, something kept nagging at me about this launch – this experience. This is the LAST launch of a Space Shuttle. This is it. The program and spacecraft I had always admired and learned so much about were about to be retired, and I wanted to witness her final launch.

Now, some might say an adult should ignore that nagging and save the money, time off, and work-catching-up-headaches and stay home. While that’s definitely a conversation to be had with oneself and family, ultimately those who stick to that line of thinking are missing out on so much. Not just a launch of the Space Shuttle or other experiences, but the exhilaration and fulfillment that comes from exposing yourself to something extraordinary and having an experience that transcends one’s daily life. Not to mention, the great people I’ve met and will continue to meet.

In 10, 20, or 50 years, would I remember what I did at work on July 8, 2011? No

In 10, 20, or 50 years, will I remember watching Atlantis leap skyward atop her powerful rockets and soar into space? Hell yes! My grandkids will be sick of hearing the stories.

I wish my wife and 2 year old daughter could be here as well, but Krista isn’t as interested in this as I am, and a 2:30 am departure time wouldn’t work well with Zoe, the 2 year old.

A final thought… there is no guarantee I’ll get to see a launch. There could be a scrub for any number of reasons. If so, I will not regret taking this trip. Just trying to see the launch is the transcending experience that fuels life, inspires me, and shapes my role in this world with my family.

Go Atlantis!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gene Ryken July 8, 2011 at 5:10 am

Very happy you are there and we can live this through you, Praying for a Launch!!


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