Shuttle Endeavour launched successfully this morning, making its very last trip into space, and marking the second-to-last shuttle launch ever. Endeavour was supposed to make its final flight on April 29th, and the Obamas had turned out to see it, along with Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly's wife, Gabrielle Giffords. Unfortunately, as often happens with launches, things did not go according to plan (blame a faulty fuse box), and the launch was postponed. Everyone waited with baited breath to see it lift off this morning, and even Rep Giffords was able to come back to the Cape and see her husband off.
While the future of the program remains cloudy, Kelly had this to say before leaving earth in Endeavour for the last time: "It's in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore. We must not stop. To all the millions watching today, including our spouses, children, family and friends, we thank you for your support."
As of Monday, Endeavour had logged more than 116 million miles, circled Earth some 4,500 times, spent 283 days in space and carried 170 people, including the last two people to fly a space shuttle for the first time. It will be retired just a few miles from me at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and I look forward to seeing it in person many times in the years to come.