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Safely in the US

We successfully crossed the border yesterday and arrived safely in Chantilly Virginia despite a late car rental, being pulled over for speeding (state trooper was super friendly, let me off with a happy july 4th wish)

Were off to the smithsonian this morning.

T minus 7 days!

I’m sitting here in a small cottage in Wells, MA, on the last day of vacation before my life becomes crazy busy. Chasing Atlantis is really happening. In one week from today Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) will make it’s final voyage beyond Earth’s atmosphere. It is the last time any of the iconic shuttles will blast off, and it is the last opportunity that I will ever have to see a launch in person.

I remember growing up following the space program. I wanted to be an astronaut so bad that my friend Brian and I entered into a strict training regimen: playing with Space Lego, kicking each other in the shins to toughen ourselves up, and spinning dizzily in the playground to simulate the G-forces we would experience with takeoff and re-entry.

I was in grade 6 at Isabella Public School. Mr. Dudar was teaching us the basic laws of physics, and Roberta Bondar was about to become Canada’s first woman astronaut in Space. I wrote to the Canada Space Agency about my interest in science and my career goals in the Space Program. When I received that big brown envelop in the mail I had never been so excited. It was all a little boy could hope for. I read page after page, learning about Roberta Bondar and Marc Garneau, the shuttle program, and the future space station. I studied every picture and the artist renderings they sent me. I fell in love with science and wondered about universe. I posted everything on a bulletin board in my bedroom; where it would all remain for many years to come. That package and the message it contained still holds a special place in my heart. It came directly from the CSA and within those pages delivered with it the freedom to dream.

So, tomorrow, my wife Stephanie and I will drive 12 hours to return to Toronto, Ontario (Canada). I will have a quick 24 hour turn around, and hit the road with an amazing crew of people for what is certain to be one awesome adventure. Monday morning we launch at approximately 1030 EST to begin the first leg of our journey: visiting the prototype shuttle, Enterprise at the Smithsonian. I am really excited to see the craft that started it all, and with the name Enterprise this will be fulfilling one little boy’s dreams as we chase Atlantis.

– Paul

Go For Launch!

Latest from NASA

Atlantis and Crew Prepared for July 8 Liftoff

Wed, 29 Jun 2011 08:48:11 AM EDT

Launch pad technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are in the process of closing out space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay in preparation for liftoff from Launch Pad 39A on July 8 at 11:26 a.m. EDT. The bay’s doors are expected to be closed for flight today.

This follows yesterday’s day-long Flight Readiness Review at which senior NASA and contractor managers confirmed that Atlantis is ready for this last shuttle flight to supply the International Space Station.

“This flight is incredibly important. The cargo that is coming up on this flight is really mandatory for space station,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, assistant administrator for space operations, following yesterday’s review.

In preparation for this final mission of the Space Shuttle Program, the STS-135 astronauts will undergo their L-10 physicals today at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.