Yesterday I stood in the break room at work and watched the space shuttle Atlantis escape Earth’s gravity and soar into the final frontier for the last time. Arms folded over my chest, I secretly crossed my fingers and said a silent prayer: 
Please God, protect them. Give Mission Control the wisdom to abort the flight even if the smallest of details don’t look right. Angels, surround the shuttle and her crew and fly with them to their destination and bring them home safety again.”
Chill bumps popped and tears stung my eyes as I counted down . . . 4-3-2-1 . . . we have ignition, we have lift off.”
When I was a little girl, daddy and I would go outside every night and watch for the satellite “Echo” to cross the skies.  He pointed out the Big Dipper and told me how to find the North Star. We would ponder life on other planets and look at the moon knowing, some day Man would go there.
I was a Girl Scout counselor the summer Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Twenty-five counselors crammed into a tiny staff house and watched the miracle on a 19 inch black and white TV.  Afterwards, I stood outside the cabin and stared at that big yellow orb hanging in the inky sky and willed myself to see the astronauts and their moon rover.
In the 1990’s I lived in Galveston, Texas.  Houston was just a hop, skip, and a jump away and so was NASA.  When Daddy came to visit, NASA was our first destination.  We saw the Mercury space capsule that Allen Shepherd rode in and wondered how a man could fit in that small of space.  Daddy said Shepherd was the first man selected to go into space because he had the least fear.  I don’t know if that is true or not, however, I could well imagine how his heart must have been pounding.
The Gemini capsules were fascinating. Again, we marveled at how small an area two astronauts had worked side by side in.  The moon rover looked silly and out of place in the NASA auditorium, but the little dune buggy had gotten the job done. Daddy and I thought the space shuttle amazing. It took so much power and energy to get that thing launched and yet it was just a simple gilder plane when it came home to land.  

Mother Earth

I remember Apollo 13’s trouble and how the world held its breath waiting and praying for those three men to come back to Earth safe and sound. And they did. Why? Because in that brief moment in time, Mankind banded together and put all their energy and concentration into getting them back.  “Failure is not an option,” the head of Mission Control had said.  
The power of a collective consciousness is astounding.
I feel sad that the shuttle missions are ending however; I know that man will continue to visit the vast black beyond.  Challenger and Atlantis are just stepping stones to bigger and better space crafts.  Worm holes will be found and the speed of light will be conquered by warp drive.  

Kirk & Spock

Personally, I have no desire to travel into space. I don’t have the guts.  Unless, of course, I could be on the Enterprise with Kirk and Spock.
Daddy, on the other hand, would’ve loved to have been a “rocket man.”
God bless and Godspeed Atlantis.
This entry was posted in Ruth Burkett Weeks, shuttle, space. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jan Morrill says:

    Good post, Ruth. It gave me goosebumps. I will so miss the space program and the pride that went along with it, and it makes me sad that one thing on my bucket list – watching the shuttle take off live – will never be crossed off. 😦

  2. Ruth…I was never a fan of Star Trek until recently I've been watching the old ones on the Scifi channel. They were so campy. Now I tape them all so I won't miss an episode. And I did love Carl Sagan.

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