As Space Shuttle Endeavor circles the earth tonight, it?s t-minus two months until the end of the shuttle program. Space Shuttle Atlantis? targeted launch date, according to the NASA website, has been pushed back to early July. After that all shuttles will be moth balled.

The space shuttle program is a monument unto itself; a symbol of human ingenuity, a symbol of our quest to conquer, a symbol of our passion to discover what else is out there. Human discovery that is?last I checked robots can?t sign autographs. The space program is still one of the cornerstones of American public education. No disrespect here, but few seven-year-olds dream about becoming the team leader at an accounting firm.

Living in North Florida we?ve grown accustomed to shuttle launches. Perhaps that?s why the decline of the space program seems just not that big a deal? Have we given up hope?

I remember sitting in front of the TV watching that first shuttle take off, and then return home, and I remember the sense of pride and accomplishment it gave everyone in America. We?d not only mastered the art of launching ourselves off the planet, we figured out how to drive the car back home in one piece.

As the second to last shuttle circles the earth tonight, and we no doubt gather to watch the last shuttle take off this summer, we?ll again raise our eyes to the heavens. We should still feel that sense of hope. Hope that someday soon we?ll find another symbol for pushing the limits to make what at one time seemed impossible possible.