Skip to main content

I'll always remember where I was on April 12, 1981. At my grandmother's house in Clinton Township, Michigan, sitting on the floor of her living room, watching the TV as the first space shuttle lifted off. I remember it so clearly that even now I can recall the fuzziness of the picture (ah, the days before HD everything), the rug burns I got on my hands from running them to and fro in pure excitement, even the texture of the corduroy pants I wore. It's like it was yesterday.

I was nine years old. I was very much into space, and at the time I wanted to be an astronaut (I would soon grow too tall and clumsy and have awful eyesight, all of which kind of put a crimp in those plans.) Young and Crippen, the two men test-flying the shuttle that day, were my heroes. It was the beginning of a new era, one that would open up cheap and easy spaceflight to all. And there I was, witnessing it. Anything was possible.

As I write this, I'm on the cusp of forty. I'm sitting in my apartment, in Kawanehoncho, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, in my living room, on a futon on the floor. I'm watching the very last space shuttle launch ever, my wife at my side.

Thirty years gone by!

I finished elementary school, junior high, high school, college. I worked crappy jobs. I worked cool jobs. I went to Japan, worked, got married, came back to the States, watched the economy crash, went off to Japan again.

In those thirty years, I've seen a lot of wonderful things, and a lot of bad things. I saw the space program fall far short of expectations, saw the promise of cheap spaceflight go by the wayside as the system was still too delicate and balky and complex. I saw far greater advances made in computers than I could have imagined, as I sit here watching TV on my laptop, a device smaller than, and almost as light as, the three-ring binders I carried around as a nine year-old. Here I sit, blogging to the world, with all the information of our world at my fingertips. All of this, all those times, all that progress and heartache, bookended by a pair of fiery launches, a beautiful spacecraft rising in a familiar arc, taking to the sky.

It's gone now, the pad empty, off into orbit and into history. And as I watched it rise for the last time, I reached back across those years, and shook the hand of my nine year-old self, and shared a dream, and the adult that I've become felt, if only for a moment, that anything was possible again.

Originally posted to Hatrax on Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 09:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and Community Spotlight.


When will a human being first set foot on Mars?

2%3 votes
16%17 votes
21%22 votes
10%11 votes
22%23 votes
21%22 votes
3%4 votes

| 102 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site