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Proud of shuttle program

As I sit on a balcony in Cocoa Beach looking north it almost seems the lights illuminating the Space Shuttle Atlantis can barely be made out. If the weather holds and now it seems that it may not; the last flight of the space shuttle program is set to take place. Atlantis is set to take flight Friday morning, July 8, at 11:26 a.m. EDT. This will bring to an end over 30 years of the space shuttle flights.

If the flight takes place as scheduled this will be the second launch that I have been able to view in person. In 2008 we were able to attend a night launch of Discovery. This is an amazing sight to be able to see. Watching a broadcast of the launch is great, but it doesn’t compare to watching in person as the shuttle lifts itself away from the earth and moves into the expanse of the sky above.

As Americans, we should be very proud of the shuttle program and what it has been able to accomplish in the last few decades. Ironically the last launch will hopefully take place during the week we celebrate the birthday of our country and our independence. We can look with pride at what we have accomplished with this program. The shuttle program was designed to be a reusable work horse to enable the transport of satellites, research in space, and most recently enabled the completion and operation of the International Space Station. The shuttle program has served our space agency well and will be missed as was the Apollo program when it was cancelled.

We also are thankful to the men and women who flew aboard the shuttle flights. Also to those heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice when the Challenger and Columbia tragedies occurred. The space program could have ended after either of those accidents but the space agency pulled itself together and made corrections to continue shuttle flight missions.

Even though so many think of space flight as ordinary and an everyday event the astronauts are taking part in a very dangerous adventure.

Even after the two failed missions the astronauts continued because of their patriotism and love of space flight.

The space program is an important part of our nation and we should continue to strive to be the best that we can be and set the example that other nations want to emulate. God Speed Atlantis!

Randy Garrison is the general manager of the Hartselle Enquirer.