I grew up in the future back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. We lived along the east coast of Florida from Cocoa Beach to Jacksonville. With NASA firing rockets into space and Disney being erected down in the middle of orange groves, it was a magical time.
As a boy, I remember watching grainy images of the Apollo missions lifting off from Cape Canaveral on television, and then rushing outside to actually see them rise into the sky. Even in Jacksonville, being over a hundred miles from the Cape couldn’t stop my heart from racing as I stared mesmerized into the sky watching a trail of smoke lift higher and higher until it was out of sight.
This fascination continued into my adolescence when we moved to Houston. Back then, space travel was still pretty special. The whole world paid attention to it. Even Russia. When we started using the space shuttle, America pretty much became invincible. Russia even decided to call it a Cold War a few years later. Today, the idea of space exploration is still magical when you consider our species as this fragile carbon form that carries on as though there is no universe out there.
Next week we’re in Vilano Beach for our annual Florida holiday. And on July 8, at 11:26 a.m., Atlantis will be the very last space shuttle to ever lift-off from Cape Canaveral. We’ll be on the beach. It will be a bright day. My wife and daughters will huddle around me under a beach umbrella as we watch the launch countdown on my iPhone. Then, a few seconds after lift-off, we’ll turn our gaze down coast and stare mesmerized into the sky until Atlantis is out of sight.