When I watched Atlantis take off for the last time on July 8th I, like a lot of people, had mixed feelings. Sadness, because it really did feel like the end of an era. I was in grade school when the first shuttle launched in April 1981.

On the other hand I feel it’s time to move on, and really it is okay to hand the reigns over to private companies and entrepreneurs. Just like the Apollo program made way for the shuttle program, so to will the future work of NASA move forward. In what way? I couldn’t tell you but, I’ll be watching.

Astronomer Phil Plait articulates these ideas much better than I. Click over to his article in the Washington Post.

Check out the final mission at NASA TV

If you have Google Earth, you can track Atlantis in real-time as they orbit the Earth.

A book you should check out is Packing For Mars by Mary Roach
If you’ve ever wondered what it would take to become an astronaut, Mary answers those questions. Sometimes, hilariously, you wish she hadn’t asked!

Also, here is the goodbye message from the shuttle close out crew as they “tucked in” the astronauts for the last time.

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