I've been following the ordeal off and on since August 5th, but the last 18 hours have been riveting for me.  To see that first rescuer go down the shaft and start loading the guys up - definitely makes you appreciate your family and the conditions we are privileged to work in here in the US.  I've had the streaming video feed online since they started and just watched as number 26 emerged from the top of the shaft.  I'm incredibly impressed by the effort and diligence that has gone into this rescue effort.  I'm also grateful that NASA was able to contribute their knowledge base as well - it seems like a great application of everything they've done in the last 50-plus years.

Though the mining operations around the world have little to do directly with my day-to-day life, the rescue of these guys is definitely a story that applies to everyone and I decided that if I was going to watch the first guy, each of them deserved the same respect.  I missed a few for work and sleep, but they all are equally amazing for surviving thus far and I really hope they get all the support they need to get readjusted to live above ground.

Just seeing the top of the capsule emerge with the first miner was enough to make me cry, let alone seeing him be reunited with his family.  Later when my husband came home in time to see the second miner, he commented on how he's not sure how the guys can bear to let their families go once they start hugging them.  I'll continue to watch until all the rescuers are out as well as the 33 miners and until then...

Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!
As a quick aside before I get to today's post, I wanted to say that I am now a "regular employee" at my current job rather than just a temporary one.  The biggest thing that changes is my benefits package, so that's a good thing.  Now I just have to get my commute shorter.  Also in household news: my oldest started 7th grade this week and the twins are about to turn FOUR YEARS OLD.  Um, for as long as each day can be, those years really are flying by quickly.  And now onto today's post...

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.