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Many young adults are lamenting the release of the 8th Harry Potter film. Not only because it means the end of a fantastic story, but it marks, for them, the end of childhood. The Sorcerer’s Stone was released when they were just beginning to enjoy reading. Over the past 13 years, these young folks have read the books over and over again. The movies only gave them more of Harry to enjoy. And now it’s all over.

What Harry Potter is for some in the generation behind me, NASA’s Space Shuttle is for me.

NASA events and research punctuate my childhood. I have vivid memories of huddling with other 4th graders in front of an 25″ t.v. screen in the school library to watch a shuttle launch. (Remember when schools only had one or two televisions for all the classrooms to share.) My teacher/school made a gigantic deal over the first school teacher to go into space; Christa McAuliffe was idolized. I’ll always remember the ’86 Challenger disaster.

Space Camp was a favorite movie. I loved to pretend I was an astronaut. NASA and its shuttle program were featured in countless issues of Weekly Reader. I learned about the research of Biosphere II and the coming moon settlement. The International Space Station was billed as my bridge to the future. Each year, I updated my encyclopedias with new articles from NASA. I followed the Voyager satellites on their treks across our solar system. I have ooh-ed and aah-ed over the images from Hubble. And through it all, the shuttle made space travel possible.

NASA’s mission of space exploration is not going to change — even now they are working on a way to safely convey men to Mars within the next few years. But that doesn’t mean I’m not saddened to see the end of the shuttle program.

2 Comments on “Endings

  1. I’m like you, I grew up watching the shuttle. I remember what it was like when they launched the first one. So many kids skipped school and went to see it live, school was treated like an in-school holiday for those of us who didn’t skip. We watched the coverage on TV in the classroom and went outside to watch the launch from the school yard. I watched the Challenger disaster from the window of my biology classroom. We heard the rumble and someone yelled, “It’s the shuttle!” and we all ran to the window. The eerie silence when we all realized it didn’t look right, something was wrong, still haunts me. I grew up on the ‘Space Coast’ of Florida, and it’s a sad thing to see the end of the Shuttle program. I’m also wondering what will happen to my hometown now.


    • Wow! I had read from another blogger, maybe it was a tweet, that thousands of people who were employed as part of the shuttle program are getting “pink” slips today. It’s sad.


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