Now, look closely at that glowing spot in the middle of the photo. That, my dear readers, is the Space Shuttle Discovery on its launch in July 2005, as seen from the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida. We were there for less-than-ideal reasons, but I’m glad I got to see one last shuttle launch. I grew up in Orlando in the 1970/80s, so it was hard to miss the thrill of the Space Shuttle launching each time. It was still new and exciting, and it was also close enough that we could see the shuttle and its smoke trail in Orlando, even though it was launching down in Cape Canaveral. In 2005, we were in Daytona, where my grandparents had lived, so we went to the beach to watch the launch, as did many other people.
Today, when the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off for the last time, it will be piloted by Doug Hurley, who graduated from the Tulane University School of Engineering in 1988. I am also a graduate of Tulane University (Newcomb College, rather than School of Engineering), so I’m proud that one of my fellow Tulanians will be piloting the last flight of the space shuttle program. For me as a Floridian and a Tulanian, it’s a nice bit of symmetry.