A few months ago a reader informed me that the Space Shuttle would be launching for the last time in September. If I was ever going to accomplish my goal of witnessing a Space Shuttle launch, I’d better be doing it soon. I checked my schedule to see if I could make something work but was disappointed to find that I would be in class during each upcoming launch date. It wasn’t going to work out and I put it out of my mind.
Then a couple of days ago I received an email from Niel:
I noticed that you want to see a Space Shuttle launch. I wondered if you knew that the Space Shuttle fleet is in the process of retiring and there will be no more launches after September. I saw the launch of Endeavour in February, and I think it’s worth the effort to see it.
My reply was little more than an expression of my disappointment with the retirement of the Shuttle Program and my disgust in our government for closing down a program that inspires our youth to pursue ambitious goals in mathematics and science. I closed the email with this statement:
I have checked out the launch schedule in the past for the upcoming year and at the time I wasn’t sure that it would fit into my schedule but being the rebel that I can sometimes be, I might have to find a way to make it happen!
After sending my response to Niel, I checked out the launch schedule again and found that, indeed, I had scheduling conflicts with school. Frustrated, and a little angry at a perceived lack of control in my life, I fired off an email to my Chemistry professor politely informing him that I would be missing class so I could travel to Florida to watch the launch of Endeavour.
Then I booked my flight to Orlando.
I had no idea what the repercussions of skipping class would be or whether there would be a quiz or exam that day. I didn’t care. Sometimes a person just needs to follow their ambitions without fear of consequence. The next morning when I checked my email I had a response from my professor:
I understand your interest in the Space Shuttle. I will help you out with this as much as possible.
At this moment, all I have is a plane ticket to Orlando and a hotel room. I don’t have a ticket to the launch area and it is not even a guarantee that the launch will take place that day. It’s a risk I am willing to take. My opportunity to accomplish this goal is coming to an end and it is time to do whatever it takes to turn this goal into a reality.