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The Final Liftoff Of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Space shuttle Atlantis blasts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Centern July 8, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This is the final launch of the space shuttle program, which began in 1981. (Photo by Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images)

In case you haven’t heard, today marks the beginning of the end of an era. NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis made its final liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this morning.

As the final mission in a 30 year shuttle program, the crew will deliver a year’s supply of supplies to the International Space Station before returning to earth one more time.

I am mesmerized by these launches. The sheer power and acceleration blows me away (If you’ll pardon the pun). To think that just seconds after liftoff the shuttle and its crew are miles downrange.

Part of my fascination with space flight probably stems from being 9 when we first landed on the moon. The whole family would gather in front of the (black and white) TV set to watch the Apollo missions lift off. There was the cartoonish “artist’s conceptualization” of the separation of the various stages of the rocket boosters, the anchorman with scale models of the rockets pointing things out with the tip of a #2 pencil, and then, magically it seemed, the first audio and video FROM THE MOON!

WOW, that was mind bending on that first moon landing. In fact, there are still a few people who don’t believe we really did it. They think it was all filmed on a Hollywood sound stage somewhere.

Where will NASA go from here? With all of the budget shortfalls and cutbacks, that seems to be the million dollar question.

Click here to get the latest information on the final Atlantis mission from NASA.

Dave D.

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