The kiddo and I watched the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis today and I couldn't help but be struck by the sadness of it. (Let's be honest, I was a sobbing mess)
I've read the criticisms of the program (cost, management, safety, etc) and I understand them... at least as well as someone on the outside can... and that's not my issue to debate. I do look at it from the perspective of my kiddo though and I mourn the loss.
I mourn the loss of the look in his eyes... the wonder and amazement as we counted down for the very last time. This was to be his first and last NASA shuttle launch and he marveled at it. The countdown, the fiery blast as they burned off the excess hydrogen, then the ignition of those massive engines... LIFTOFF!!! He yelled and clapped and made me replay it over and over again.
I can't help but think that this reaction has been the same through the years. From Apollo 11 when they walked on the moon, to Columbia, the first of the "Space Shuttles", to today, the last flight of Atlantis. Decades of technology to separate them but the reaction of the people watching has always been the same.
They say that our children are jaded by the technology around them... and maybe they are. But I saw the look in his eyes this morning... a look that told me that while the "program" may be over, it really has just begun. It will come back, run by the government, civilians, or billionaire pilots, but it will all have started in the same place... a child, marveling at the raw power and wonder of watching a shuttle blast off into space.
We watched it a few gazillion times more until even he got tired of it, so I got up to turn off the TV and make breakfast. Drew looked at me and said "Shuttle all done Mama"...
For now Buddy. Just for now.