Liftoff

Yesterday’s topic: Are you happy or sad the Space Shuttle is finished?

I just witnessed the launch, along with dozens of doctors and nurses from the Bert Fish Hospital, from the bridge over the intracoastal in New Smyrna Beach. I joined a crowd of people just in time to see the red flare float across the horizon and into the sky. We were happy and in awe, squinting at the sun, watching the shuttle until it disappeared. Standing there, watching it go up, I was filled excitement and a sense of American pride.

I looked around, wondered how many times I had witnessed a space shuttle launch, knowing Endeavour’s “sister ship Atlantis will close out the 30-year-old shuttle program when it returns from a mission set for launch in June.” It was a short walk downhill to the hospital’s parking lot. I overheard someone say, “I wonder who is watching the hospital.” Then, “I hope no one needs help.” I smiled again, sad for anyone in the hospital who had to witness the launch on TV or radio.

From the Orlando Sentinel in 2010: “When the last of the remaining scheduled shuttle flights is launched, no longer will Central Florida’s sons and daughters look to the eastern sky and see the shuttle take off in all its glory; no longer will people from all over the world look to the United States as the leader in the exploration of new worlds.”

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