Awe, Overwhelmed and Humbled

The Associated Press

Last minute decision I left Miami at 4am this morning to watch the last NASA space shuttle, Atlantis, launch. Basically, the space shuttle program lost it’s funding. The US gave the Russians the Space station and are going to focus on deep space exploration. That’s about the gist of what I got from various news blogs.

Does this mean no more US astronauts? Unless they get recruited from private sectors, Russia or the other countries who are looking into space travel. My first thoughts were actually… “huh, so if a huge meteor is spinning towards Earth then it’s the Russians who are going to have to save us all.” There is a lot about that idea that makes me smile. Life is a funny thing.

As a little girl who wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up, I decided that I had to watch the launch this morning. I’d been debating the merits of driving for hours to watch an event that lasts less than a minute and I’d be too far to see the shuttle distinctively anyway. But last weekend I saw Transformers 3, and having no clue of the plot, broke into tears at all the NASA footage and at the sight of Buzz Aldrin. (Have I mentioned my framed photo of Neil Armstrong?) I figured it was a sign.

It’s only a ~4 hour drive. I got to a park along the shore real early and then, 10 minutes prior to launch, stood on the walkway and held my breath as the shuttle took off 3 minutes late. Ignition. Lift Off. And the crowd goes wild. It looked just like you see in home videos except I was there. I was there and I saw it. And now I have another story to tell for the rest of my life.

As I walked back to the car my daughter hung to my arm and said, “I know my mom is very happy.” And I started to say, “It’s more like awe”. But I choked on the word with too much emotion. I was overwhelmed by the event. I imagined the astronauts shooting through the atmosphere and looking down on the Earth below. I reflected upon my life, and was humbled.


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