To Boldly Go

The Space Shuttle program has ended, but will leave incredible memories for everyone.

Here are some of mine:

When I was at Disney, the coolest project I worked on was a promotion that put a Buzz Lightyear figure on the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-124 in 2009. I worked on several aspects of the program with my colleagues at Disney Parks Public Relations; Geoffrey Pointon, Todd Heiden and Duncan Wardle.

My core responsibility was managing the development of some Buzz Lightyear games that would be published in the Kids’ Club area of NASA’s website.

Buzz and Benjamin

Photo by Gary Buchanan

This was an honor for this lifelong space freak. I worked with a NASA educational team based in Washington DC and content developers from Disney Institute to create the content of the games and I worked with a development company to create the design.

When it was time for the games and the Space Shuttle to launch, I got spent time in the NASA Media Center for a few days to demonstrate the application to journalists from around the world. Of course when the Shuttle launched I got to experience that too, from within 3 miles of the craft.

STS 131 Grandstand

The Grandstand at the Apollo/Saturn V Center had a party atmosphere.

I took my Dad to his first launch experience when we went to see Discovery mission STS-131 blast off in April 2010. We woke up at 1:00 am so we could get the bus from Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex to one of my favorite places, the Apollo/Saturn V Center, by 4:00 am. The rocket hangar had a party atmosphere as everyone got their breakfast and passed the time looking at the monuments to man’s great voyage to the Moon.

The Discovery launched at 6:21 just before the break of dawn.

The early rise was worth the experience of what must have been one of the most beautiful launches in Space Shuttle history. The International Space Station magically floated over our heads and in about 20 minutes, the Shuttle rose to follow it’s path. Moments after the launch, dawn broke to paint the sky a deep blue and the Shuttle’s contrail orange, pink and white neon.

STS 131 Contrail Illuminated by the Rising Sun

STS 131 contrail illuminated by the rising sun

I took one more trip to NASA to see a Shuttle Launch on another assignment related to the Buzz Lightyear project and was able to capture this video of the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis mission STS-132 from in front of the historic countdown clock.

Man will continue to explore space. Voyager enlightens us, as it continues it’s mission at the edge of our Solar System. So if you believe in space exploration like I do, just remember that we are out there. We’re on Voyager, on Phoenix and on every other probe that has ever been sent into the cosmos. I’m confident and hopeful that human space exploration will return soon to the United States.

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently we’ve have waded a little way out, maybe ankle deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows, this is where we came from. We long to return.” – Carl Sagan – Quote Source

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