I’m sitting here in a small cottage in Wells, MA, on the last day of vacation before my life becomes crazy busy. Chasing Atlantis is really happening. In one week from today Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) will make it’s final voyage beyond Earth’s atmosphere. It is the last time any of the iconic shuttles will blast off, and it is the last opportunity that I will ever have to see a launch in person.
I remember growing up following the space program. I wanted to be an astronaut so bad that my friend Brian and I entered into a strict training regimen: playing with Space Lego, kicking each other in the shins to toughen ourselves up, and spinning dizzily in the playground to simulate the G-forces we would experience with takeoff and re-entry.
I was in grade 6 at Isabella Public School. Mr. Dudar was teaching us the basic laws of physics, and Roberta Bondar was about to become Canada’s first woman astronaut in Space. I wrote to the Canada Space Agency about my interest in science and my career goals in the Space Program. When I received that big brown envelop in the mail I had never been so excited. It was all a little boy could hope for. I read page after page, learning about Roberta Bondar and Marc Garneau, the shuttle program, and the future space station. I studied every picture and the artist renderings they sent me. I fell in love with science and wondered about universe. I posted everything on a bulletin board in my bedroom; where it would all remain for many years to come. That package and the message it contained still holds a special place in my heart. It came directly from the CSA and within those pages delivered with it the freedom to dream.
So, tomorrow, my wife Stephanie and I will drive 12 hours to return to Toronto, Ontario (Canada). I will have a quick 24 hour turn around, and hit the road with an amazing crew of people for what is certain to be one awesome adventure. Monday morning we launch at approximately 1030 EST to begin the first leg of our journey: visiting the prototype shuttle, Enterprise at the Smithsonian. I am really excited to see the craft that started it all, and with the name Enterprise this will be fulfilling one little boy’s dreams as we chase Atlantis.