Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just Boo...

The End.

Several years ago my son reached out to another friend's friend, Paul Dye. The 6th graders had been told to pick a topic related to flight for their science reports.

My son has not always had the best self esteem. Hearing impaired, stuttering, fatherless he always felt a little "less" because of those things. He'd been all over the world by the age of 12, seen shuttle launches, been in the Tampa Tribune when a reporter and photographer found us touring the memorial site for the Challenger (the only ship to have disintegrated at that time, Columbia came later) but his confidence languished.

So, the boys in his room picked planes they liked, one picked his father who owned a Cessna, another one picked his dad who flew for Northwest - believe the 757.

My son kept his secret. His person *owns* the International Space Station, and ANYTHING and everything that leaves a launch pad courtesy of NASA. Paul Dye is the lead flight director for all things space bound. He knows the astronauts by name, they know him. He knew the Challenger and Columbia fearless 14, he knows the Atlantis crew today. 

We thought of Paul today.  We thought of him every time a launch occurred, and especially when the two orbiters did not land safely.  Because of Paul, my son swaggered a little more the day of the presentation, because of Paul and NASA and the astronauts we've met, my son never stopped looking up.

My son, like me, has always been interested in "what's out there" and hence, we often watched the NASA channel on DirecTV. We've owned telescopes, and watched the shuttles from the ground. At the right angles and right time, you can see which moving "white spot" is a shuttle or a star or an asteroid.

We won't be able to do that anymore.

For all those who have seen a launch, you know it is beyond spectacular, emotional, and awe inspiring. For all those who have seen a landing, you know the relief in getting another crew down safely.

We won't be able to do that anymore either.

These events will never happen again. I'm not sure when I got so old as to remembering Apollo's launches, the decision to scrub going to the moon again, the building of the shuttle fleet, but I remember the sadness when it happened.


(Picture courtesy of NASA.gov)

Just as I do today at the end of the shuttles' runs.



I don't blame Obama or Bush for the end of the runs; I think plans to get to Mars and asteroids are a joke, something to quell the minds of those who want to go where no man has gone before... but I don't think it will happen...too many politics getting in the way (both sides), too many conflicting interests now (both sides), too little money for too many causes (both sides)...

I will miss being in KSC for a launch, I will miss watching video of the shuttle (orbiter actually) in space. I will miss hearing the "boom" of the launch, and the "wheels down" call of the commander. I will miss the pictures from space of our marble we all call home, and I will miss the "what's out there now" feeling everytime humans went to space.

I watched Atlantis' launch and sadly wondered, when.

So, one final entry for NASA:

Thank you, Job well done!

3 comments:

NP Odyssey said...

Nice tribute.
I only got to see one launch in person on the shores of Titusville. It will be missed, but I personally think we will see the next generation launched.

A Doc 2 Be said...

We may well see that but I don't think it will hold the same "awe" as launching, returning, launching again of the shuttle fleet.

I truly hope I am very, very wrong in that.

NP Odyssey said...

It won't be a pretty as the shuttle, but the shuttle was only a low-orbit vehicle and could never make it even halfway to the moon. It was designed for heavy hauling and was suppose to be cheap to operate, that was never the case.
It is time for humans to go deeper into space and it will happen. It will just be a long time.