On July 8, 2011 the shuttle Atlantis launched for it's last flight in space with Colonel Douglas Hurley as the pilot. Doug has deep ties to the north country with his grandparents, cousins and many close family & friends living in Clayton and Jefferson County. Many of these relatives were invited to this final launch of the shuttle program and they had the best seats in the house at Kennedy Space Center for the blastoff.
Even though the weather on 7/7/11 was dismal the family and astronauts came together at the actual launchpad site of the Atlantis to say their goodbyes and wish the crew the best luck in this world and beyond.
When launch day arrived (7/8/11), no one really knew if the giant beast "Atlantis" would fly or be delayed due to storms but the engines roared to life and she lifted off to space for a spectacular site. The crew arrived in record time to complete their tasks and return to earth next week.
For anyone interested, you can learn more about NASA, the astronauts and the very special achievements they have made over the past 30 years by logging onto www.nasa.gov/shuttle. You can watch live TV of the astronauts, peruse the many beautiful pictures they have of space or investigate the vast array of projects and work.
The shuttle program may be finished but considering 1,000,000 people turned out to watch a 22 second event and were thrilled to do so, I feel our space program is still important to this country and all the future scientists and space explorers. I can only say that I was honored to be among the invited guests from Jefferson County to witness this significan event.