The last Space Shuttle launch, up close and personal

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I’m old enough that my childhood technology obsessions predate game consoles and home computers. In elementary school, instead of immersing myself in fantasy space battles, my geekier classmates and I watched the Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz launches, and read of a fantastic reusable spaceship that would arrive at end of the 1970s called a Space Shuttle. Until game consoles and Commodore 64s became prevalent in high school, we had to make do with Star Trek, sci-fi novels, and science fact.

Cut to today, when we have a real space station in orbit that’s been manned for over a decade, and we’re jaded enough to nitpick the details of our fantasy space excursions in games like Mass Effect 2 and Halo. But for us Apollo kids, for the space aficionados who not only remember the tragedy of the Columbia landing but that of the Challenger launch as well, space travel remains a fascinating, exciting endeavor, filled with discovery, wonder, and risk.

Thus, when I found out I was one of just 150 people selected from over 5,500 applicants to view the last launch of the Space Shuttle program as part of the #NASATweetup program, I was beyond excited. I booked my tickets, hooked up with the rest of the “Tweeps” online (ironically, via Facebook), and made plans to witness a historic milestone.

After the jump, milestone witnessing Continue reading →