I was sitting at home today watching eagerly to see whether or not the shuttle would launch. I was anxious to see NASA have a successful launch and nervous for the astronauts aboard. Given the last several attempts the shuttle program does not have a great track record, and one that of my earliest vivid memories is the Challenger explosion, I am concerned for those brave enough to go on the shuttle.
The space program has always fascinated me. Given that my mother was a fan of "cheesy sci-fi" I was awed by space early on. But I think even my mother was shocked by my certainty when I declared in elementary school that I was going to be an astronaut. Even after the Challenger explosion (1st grade for me) I was drawn to it. To this day, gazing at the stars is one of my favorite things to do.
I remember following a geeky pattern through elementary school. I convinced my parents to buy me a telescope, and I remember having late night slumber parties for the sole purpose of staying up to watch the meteor showers. I even made a homemade telescope in 4th grade and recreated Galileo's experiements tracking the moons of Jupiter. By 6th grade my desire was more refined and I was certain that I was going to be the first person (not just woman) on Mars.
Obviously as I grew up my dreams changed and my goals changed but I've never quite given up the hope that I might get to space one day. So I found myself watching the preparation of the shuttle with excitment and anticipation and a little worry. They talk about each of the astronauts and their families at home and it makes me say a prayer that they all will make it home safely. They are living one of my dreams.
Ultimately the launch was scrubbed today due to weather concerns. I think that the goal is to try again tomorrow. I wonder about the future of the space program. The shuttles will be scrubbed for good in 2010 and we'll be going back to launchers more reminiscent of the Apollo missions. Whatever the future of the space program I hope that it continues to grow and thrive. Another tragedy would continue to set them back.
In the meantime, I'll watch and wait and hope and pray. And, if NASA should ever want to send a regular person into space I'll be glad to take the risk and go. (And my husband adds, if they want to do experiements on the effects of weightlessness during sex he'd be glad to go too!)