July 8th marks the second anniversary of Atlantis’ final liftoff from Earth. Just a few days ago, Atlantis’ new home was opened to the public as she rests at a precise 43.21 degree angle, proudly displaying both her scored heat shielding and open cargo bay in celebration the Shuttle’s legacy. Oh yeah, and that’s the Canadarm extending from the bay if you hadn’t noticed it. (Below)
Two years ago, we were tightly huddled within a forest of tripod legs anxiously waiting to see if Atlantis would fly. Literally one million people stood beneath rain clouds in hopes of a patch of clear skies that would be needed to avoid a scrubbed mission. We only had one shot to capture the launch on film. If the mission were scrubbed, we didn’t have the funding at the time to make a return journey. Despite the weather and the risk, the million gathered on the shores; some having traveled much farther than us to witness this (potentially) historic moment. As you might know by now, the clouds did part, and just in time. At T – 30 minutes, those gathered around radios heard “Atlantis…you are go for launch” crackle through the radio. The roar of the crowd in celebration was second only to the exuberance of the launch itself.
As Atlantis left Earth for the last time I would never have believed that our journey would have continued as far as it has. As we navigated traffic back to Orlando in 2011, I thought this was the end of our film. We came to see the launch, we interviewed Chris Hadfield (the very first of all our interviews), and we rounded out the trip by meeting up with Jim Kennedy and Story Musgrave. It was time to return home and begin to edit. But that’s not what happened. Within a few months, we were in the Vehicle Assembly Building…twice. At our last anniversary, we had our first opportunity to debut some of the footage from the film at Polaris 26 and the Polaris (TCON) team helped arrange our interview with Wil Wheaton.
Once again, we thought we had reached the end of our adventure. Instead, our chase brought us closer to Atlantis than we ever thought possible as we literally stood beneath the heat tiles as she rolled into the new facility where she now rests. The start of 2013 was the opening of our “North America Tour” as we began to explore the future of the post-shuttle space program connecting with visionary teams like those heading up asteroid mining company Planetary Resources. (By the way. Have you checked out their new crowd funded space telescope?)
In two weeks, we are back on the road. One of the biggest names in the film to-date will be on the roster (which will be announced shortly with a cool opportunity for you to get involved in the film). At this point, I have stopped thinking of each leg of the film as the potential “end” of the journey. Why? Because there won’t be an end. Sure we may interview EVERY person that could lend us their wisdom and insight. We could edit the film perfectly and have it be applauded by critics and film goers alike. We could sit within the cockpit of Atlantis herself. However, if Chasing Atlantis really is an expression of our own desire to pursue what really makes us feel alive, then it won’t stop just because we put our cameras down. And that’s really what the film has become. It’s not a film about a space shuttle, or even people chasing after a space shuttle. It’s a film about how journeys (and starting those journeys!!) are more important than destinations because destinations are seldom where or what we believe they will be.