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    The End of an Era in Space

    September 21, 2012; 6:31 PM ET

    The space shuttle Endeavor made its final flight over the Los Angeles area today eventually destined to go as a major exhibit at the California Science Center. This was the last space shuttle to find its final home. Its an end to an era that I grew up in.

    I was working a later-than-normal work schedule today, so it had been my hope to head to near Disneyland and watch Endeavor do a flyover. However, the delay made me cancel that trip since I could not make work on time. Instead I, like many others, watched as the two majestic birds flew over Los Angeles and Orange counties. As I watched, I was awash with emotion. It was fantastic to see the marvels of these two machines flying as one. This, in itself, was a scientific marvel, but mostly I felt sad. Sad that an era I grew up in was now at an end. Probably at no time in the rest of my life will we have what the last 50 years brought with man exploring space, the final frontier.

    I moved to Florida at the age of 9 and watched as Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft were launched breaking new ground with every launch. I was glued to the television screen with each launch, mostly watching Walter Cronkite do the announcing. In some way, this also helped torch my love for science. Over the years, my fascination with the space program never wavered. Even though I moved away from Florida, I continued waiting for each launch of the space shuttle, making sure I could see as many as possible. There, of course, were a few tragedies along the way, but this comes with the exploration of the unknown. Men and women giving their lives so that we could learn more from what space offered. I shared the grief with the nation those few times but knew we were still doing the right thing by going back into space each time.

    Now, it's done. I never thought that the human thirst to explore would be left to die. Yet that is what has happened to the United States human space program. It was allowed to die. The human part of space exploration is dead with seemingly no hope of resurrection anytime soon. Our government deems it not worthwhile, and I am sure there is a fair amount of people that may think so as well. That is what is so very sad. Over the years, there were many advances in all the sciences because of our human exploration of space. However, even without that increase in knowledge, mankind back to ancient times had always sought to explore new lands and eagerly awaited new adventures. At least for the U.S. that is now gone. We have had, and will continue to have, great unmanned missions such as the recent landing on Mars. But that lacks something. I always thought that in my lifetime man would walk on Mars like we did when I was just a kid on the moon's surface.

    Thanks to all the men and woman who have explored space over the last half century. Your contributions will not be forgotten, nor should they. As for Endeavor, at the first chance I get I will be making my visit to the California Science Center to see you in person. That is at least something to look forward to.

    The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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