February 22, 2010
I joined the large crowd at Ellington this afternoon to welcome the STS-130 crew home to Houston. Commander George Zamka, a.k.a. "Zombo" said, "It is great to be talking to people in the day time!" The crew worked nights for their 13-day flight.
Each astronaut took time to thank their families and the people who helped with training and operations.
Perhaps the most poignant comments considering the upcoming retirement of the space shuttle came from the rookie, Pilot Terry Virts, who said that standing by the space shuttle prior to launch, listening to it come to life, filled him with pride to be an American. He thanked everyone who had worked on the shuttle program, and the audience erupted in loud applause.
Steve Robinson added to these sentiments by thanking the workers who have already left the program, saying that he was grateful to them for making "this dream come to life." He asked that if anyone knew any retired NASA workers to please thank them.
I must admit I got a little choked up when he said that, as someone who worked the first shuttle flights, standing there wearing my NASA Alumni League badge. The 14-year-old son of one of my good friends came up to me afterwards, and said, "I'm supposed to say 'thank you' to you' so 'thank you!'"
The crew were so tired that JSC Director Mike Coats forbid them to stay after the ceremony and sign autographs.
It is hard to believe that there are only four more shuttle flights. The old workhorse has just about finished assembling and outfitting the International Space Station. Another Expedition crew is getting ready to launch, and the next shuttle is scheduled for April 5.
To the stars,
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Posted by m_dyson at February 22, 2010 07:57 PM