This past Friday, Paul and I stood beneath the wing of the last space shuttle to fly a mission to space. I could actually read the serial numbers on each of the thermal protection tiles as Atlantis hovered above me on its carrier.
In July of 2011, when we first set out to chase Atlantis, I thought we had a pretty great seat. And we did! We had the opportunity to mingle with crowds of hundreds of thousands as Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center. Being there on the shores of Titusville was important. There are many films that are about shuttle and the technology that makes space travel possible. But we were interested in the people who had been influenced by shuttle; their dreams and hopes and goals, and what made them travel thousands of miles to see this 30 second spectacle.
When March rolled by and we were able to get into the Vehicle Assembly building as Atlantis was being prepped for decommission, the shuttle was still behind a yellow retaining wall. But this…this was something all together different. No retaining wall, no barrier. Just the shuttle, and those of us who were there to see her “parked” into her new home on display at the KSC Visitor Center.
“We did it” I thought to myself. “We made it.” We were just the road-trip film; the movie project that grew out of the “wouldn’t it be awesome if” statement that sent us down to see the last space shuttle launch. However as Atlantis stood before and above us, blowing away my expectations how large she actually is, there wasn’t a total sense of completion that I thought I would feel. Although this project has brought us directly to the shuttle, Chasing Atlantis has become less and less about the vehicle itself but about the journey we take in our own lives to chase our “Atlantises” That is the project we have yet to complete as we endeavour to finish the film
Atlantis was carried for a total of 12 hours from the time it left the Vehicle Assembly Building to its arrival, only a few miles away, at the visitor center. It was escorted for the last mile by heroes of the space program; giants like Scott Carpenter and Buzz Aldrin. As the sun set, Atlantis was silhouetted against a shower of fireworks until it was rolled into a new structure where it will likely not stand in the outside air again in the foreseeable future.
If you’ve been following along in the journey thus far and would like to help our film develop into the vision we have for it, I would encourage you to check out our fundraising campaign at www.indiegogo.com/chasingatlantis