Earlier this month, on July 8th, the US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), launched its last space shuttle mission, ending 30 years of the manned space shuttle program. I – like many Americans – have mixed feelings about ending our manned missions to space. Mainly I’m mad that the program is over. However, in an economic climate like ours – where the US is about to have to park it’s car around the corner so that China doesn’t come and take it back (thanks to Jon Stewart for that one) – I can see where saving $450 million per space shuttle mission is an understandable goal, too.
Since I’m a total technology geek and a NASA freak, I’m pretty lucky in that I have a few family members that work for NASA down in Cape Canaveral, FL. Thanks to my family, a friend (who’s as obsessed with NASA as I am) and I got VIP passes to the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on Mission STS-129, back in November of 2009. We got a guided tour of the space center on the day before, and the following day, we got to watch the launch from the closest platform – the same platform that congressmen, the astronauts’ families, and other VIPs get to watch from. So, that’s why I felt a special “connection” to Atlantis as it flew NASA’s final mission three weeks ago.
I just recieved a special video that NASA made about the final flight and about the end of the space shuttle program. I’m trying to find out how to upload it without having to pay for a video upgrade on here. If I find out, I’ll post it later. For now, I want to share the HD video of Atlantis’s STS-129 launch. It’s a 20 minute clip, and it’s awesome to hear all of the radio conversation between Kennedy Space Station in FL and Houston Flight Control and with the astronauts themselves aboard Atlantis. But if you don’t have twenty minutes, skip ahead to the 9:00 mark – that’ll put you to the T-Minus One Minute mark.
Nothing can replace watching a launch live. Even from 2 miles away, the light from the flames will cause you to close your eyes and the rumble from the engines resonates throughout your body. I still get chill bumps when I watch this video and think about that day: