Today the space shuttle Discovery took its last ride to its new home in Washington, DC. People in the DC area were lucky enough to get a chance to see it fly over, but thanks to media coverage and the internet, just about everyone could tune in live if they wanted. The Mall and surrounding building roof tops were lined with people waiting to get that last glimpse...but why?
Did you see the shuttle fly by today or watch it on tv/online? Why was it important to you to witness the last flight? Did this event evoke space program memories for you? What did you share with your students?
For those of you in the DC area, did you take pictures? Please share them!
I didn't get to see this in person, but in 1981, I lived in Friendswood, Texas... Just across the freeway from NASA, Houston. Thanks to the sharp eyes of my then young son, we saw the first shuttle - Columbia, flying piggyback on a 747 after it's first test flight - STS-1. For the first few few missions, NASA would bring the shuttle to Houston so the engineers,etc could examine the shuttle there before it went back to Florida as it originally landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Of course it was landing and was very low as it turned its approach right in front of our house!!!! WHAT A SIGHT AND A THRILL. Mission control would also call the school district and advise them when any future shuttles flew over. Students from all over the Houston area were able to see the sight repeated numerous times. I must admit that I was a little teary when I watched Discovery leave Florida for the Smithsonian. It is sad that the end of U.S. manned space flight and President Kennedy's initiative has come to an end. I hope the next chapter will be as wondrous as the first.
I work just a couple blocks from the Mall here in Washington and didn't learn about the shuttle until an hour before it happened. I felt compelled to walk down and see it. In fact, I felt like I couldn't miss it, this was simply too historic to let a couple blocks and being on the clock prevent me from witnessing the moment. The moment came near the base of the Washington Monument when I caught the first glimpse of the shuttle as it came in from the southeast between some trees. I couldn't help to feel moved by the site, as well as by the immediate and visibly moved response of the people all standing around me. Traffic came to a halt on the street beside me and people got out of their cars to look. I was taken back to my childhood standing across the Intracoastal Waterway from Cape Canaveral and hearing the countdown and waiting for the space shuttle to launch, or seeing space shuttle launches from my high-rise apartment balcony (orange glow, smoke billowing out and gradually narrowing) several hundred miles to the south from where I was in Georgia. Even though I never followed the nation's endeavors in space closely, I still felt a sense of loss seeing the shuttle pass overhead here in DC, and wonder what has been lost by retiring the shuttle program.