• One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap For Geraldo

      Written By Geraldo Rivera

      Space Shuttle Atlantis takes off for final voyage

      With the bitter after-taste of the shocking Casey Anthony verdict and the slap on the wrist sentence of time served for the legally exonerated child killing mother, the launch of the Space Shuttle was a welcome relief.

      Invited to witness the historic 135th and final flight of the massive spacecraft with the family of key NASA employees, we had a front row seat to history.

      We watched Atlantis' mighty engines ignite; the brilliant flash of flame and plumes of gas and steam visible long seconds before the roar reached us about three miles away.

      Then to the cheers of the crowd, which included scores of awestruck children, the big bird gathered speed and then disappeared into the cloud cover that had threatened to delay the swan song of the program that has thrilled us and with the Challenger disaster in 1986 and Columbia in 2003, twice broke our hearts.

      It was a thrill and I was so proud to see it with my own eyes. It felt like I was 14 years old again, back on Jones Beach launching the homemade rockets I made for Science class.