The Space Shuttle Discovery made its last climb into space on Thursday. According to PBS Newshour, its final mission was to go to the International Space Station. The STS-133 launch time was 4:53 p.m. EST.
In the hours leading up to the takeoff, a buzz cascaded over the Florida sky throughout Cape Canaveral and Titusville, Fla., as spectators awaited the panoramic shuttle launch of the STS-133.Whether it was from the loud voice telling us a minute-by-minute and second-by-second play of events or maybe it was from the Coast Guard helicopters that flew over the Banana River reminding us that threats are real. The day seemed to build in anxiousness as all awaited to see if and when the shuttle could and would launch. Would it be a go or would be scratched to take off another day?
As the day progressed, viewers saw at least three Coast Guard flyovers as a reminder of the importance of the day’s events. Imagine yourself for a moment that you are one of those astronauts: Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt, Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen. These men and women are heroes to the U.S. for their bravery as they exit Earth’s atmosphere and travel around the Earth to their final destination of the International Space Center.
Their mission will be remembered forever not just because of who they are as astronauts, but because of their mission: to be the last astronauts to fly the Discovery shuttle off and away into space. The truth is we can’t imagine being one of these four astronauts. Yet, we can watch as mere spectators as the earth shakes beneath us.
Thousands of everyday Americans arrived to watching history in the making. People were everywhere. There were children sitting on trucks, people under tents or umbrellas with large cameras and telescopes, and even children watched as history was made. Each person capturing memories for a lifetime. There were strangers standing side by side as the countdown began for the Discovery shuttle’s last takeoff.
In the final 10-second countdown, cheers began erupting throughout the large crowds of people standing in awe. Screams erupted as the ground shook. Squeals of excitement shook the crowd as everyone watched in awe as Discovery left the Kennedy Space Center. The seconds after takeoff were spell-bound for viewers. The sounds of hundreds of cameras clicking didn’t seem to dim thrill as spectators attempted to capture the moments they would remember for a time.
Capturing the Discovery shuttle on camera was an amazing event. Watching with the naked eye was an awe-dropping, spectacular event. Experiencing the adrenaline that erupted throughout the crowd as viewers felt the ground shake beneath them was like listening to a breathtaking symphony singing their last tune. On Thursday, viewers were reminded of all the reasons we are proud to be American: for love this country and love all it represents. The Discovery shuttle launch was just a mere reminder.