As I stood there watching, tears filled my eyes. It's bittersweet watching her go off into retirement, knowing that decades of NASA's shuttle program are now over.
You see, when I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut in the worst way. Specifically I wanted to be a pilot. I had a plan too. I would go to the Air Force Academy and fly jets for a bit before joining NASA. Space Camp was part of my plan too. Christa Mcauliffe and Sally Ride were the greatest heros in my life. My dad encouraged this dream too.
At some point my dream died. I'm not sure when. Maybe when I learned that my parents could not afford to send me to Space Camp in Alabama. Maybe when someone told me how very few astronauts there are, and how even fewer get chosen to actually go into space. Maybe it's when I realized that being in the Air Force meant military life and I hated that idea. Someone, somewhere killed that dream.
When I moved to Houston four years ago the fire that had burned that dream was rekindled when I realized I now lived in Space City, the home of NASA. I made friends with people who worked for NASA. Every shuttle launch was covered in way more detail than any other city's local news would have given it. Budget cutbacks to NASA were felt in a real way here.
So today I watched another part of the dream die, but I also honored the memory of the amazing things the shuttle program has accomplished.