Yesterday space shuttle Endeavour stopped in Houston for the night on its final journey. It’s being transported from Florida to California to take its place as a museum piece at the California Science Center. We decided to forego fighting the traffic to get to Ellington for an up close and personal view, but there was no way I was missing out on seeing Endeavour as it did several flybys.
Emma, Jose’s mom and I piled into the car and met Jose at Rocket Park, right at the entrance to JSC. It was a great vantage point. We were pretty early, but after a half hour of waiting, we finally spotted Endeavour heading towards us on the back of its 747 carrier. It came by once, twice, and then we thought it was heading for a landing — until we saw it rise in the distance again and make one last slow turn towards JSC for a third and final pass.
I’ve always thought of Endeavour as “my” shuttle. I saw her on the launch pad the first time I went to KSC as a high school freshman in 1993. I saw her up close and even touched her nose in the OPF during a coop trip to KSC in 1997. Ironically, the two missions I worked as lead Rendezvous Officer were Atlantis and Discovery, but I saw Endeavour fly by JSC in 2008 and launch on the STS-130 mission in 2010. She has a special place in my heart.
Emma had fallen asleep, and of course she wouldn’t have remembered the experience anyway. It’s so strange to me to think that for Emma, the space shuttle will just be “that old thing Mom and Dad worked on before I was born.” Still, I will be able to show her these photos when she’s older, and tell her about how we took her to see the space shuttle when she was only 6 weeks old. But who knows, maybe it’s a sign — like my “spaceship that lands on Earth” shirt from so many years ago that eerily foreshadowed my future career.
That’d be pretty cool.