Today was the day that NASA announced the 150 people who won the lottery to attend the November 1st launch of STS-133. Sadly, I was in the majority of the 2,700 entrants to not get a pass to witness this event in VIP style. I had another blog topic chosen for posting today, but couldn't bring myself to finish it today - it seemed like I kept thinking about how large of a role NASA has played in my life considering I've never worked for them. I was almost 2-1/2 years old when STS-1 launched in 1981, so I've never known a life without space shuttles. I certainly remember the day of the Challenger explosion, if not the exact moment it happened. I loved the movie "Space Camp" growing up because it was so cool and the character Tish always made me laugh (good old Kelly Preston!). Even "Flight of the Navigator" was awesome in my book. I grew up near Vandenberg Air Force Base where they launch rockets from time to time. I wanted to be the first woman on the moon! By the time Columbia didn't make it home in 2003 I was already resigned to the fact that I would never get a ride.
Even through college I typically had one wall of my room dedicated to NASA posters and my collection of mission patches is embarrassingly large. So why did I go into structural engineering instead of astronautics? I'm not sure, really. Maybe it was my high school physics teacher being an idiot and my drafting teacher guiding me more towards structures. Maybe it was my lack of desire to get a master's degree. Maybe it was my husband voicing his nervousness over ever seeing me out on the launch platform and having to watch. Either way, I realized a while ago that even if I had taken the proper track to become an astronaut, the shuttle program was going to end before I would have a chance to ride it. I used to joke that I could still get into the space program as a structural engineer because someone needed to build the structures on the moon, but the moon seems to be out of reach as well.
My last hope? The entry on my bucket list to watch a space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center. I got to go there in the summer of 1986, but due to the tragedy in January of that year, the possibility of seeing a launch wasn't even on the radar. There are only two launches left on the schedule before the shuttles are retired and the next generation of American space travel isn't ready yet. I didn't make the #NASATweetUp list for STS-133 in November, but I still have one last hope to be in a position to watch STS-134 in February of 2011. A girl can dream.