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An Image it Took 30 Years to Complete: Father and Son at First and Last Shuttle Launch

Father and Son: STS-1 and STS-135. Chris Bray and his father took two similar images, 30 years apart. Image courtesy Chris Bay. Click the image to see it on Flickr

Chris Bray and his father Kenneth attended the first space shuttle launch 30 years ago and even though they hadn’t seen any other launches in person since, they decided to make the journey to see the final launch to ‘bookend’ the shuttle program in their lives. Plus, they were able to take this great image of father and son at two shuttle launches, “the picture we waited 30 years to complete,” Chris Bray said.

Note the similar shirts and poses, as well as examples of the available technology of the day.

But their odyssey wasn’t without a bit of adventure!

“In addition to being astronomy buffs for as long as I can remember, Dad and I have been big fans and followers of the space program — including all the private endeavors,” Chris Bray told Universe Today. “We’ve only been to the two Shuttle launches. I live in NYC and he lives in NJ, so it’s not always the easiest and most convenient trip to make.”

Chris said that about a year ago when NASA started discussing the last missions, he and his father talked about how nice it would be to go to the last launch since they had attended the first.

“Dad was a jewelry designer and made some of the official shuttle pins for the early STS missions (like this one),” Chris said, “so that’s why we were down there for the first launch. We were lucky enough to get in the lottery for STS-135 and scored some tickets to the Astronaut Hall of Fame viewing site.”

“But we almost didn’t make it! Our flight out of Newark on Thursday the 7th was delayed 5 or so hours and we didn’t get to Orlando until about 2:30 am. On top of that, all the rental cars were gone and despite having a reservation for a car we had no transportation. We eventually were able to rent a 15 seat passenger van (the last available car) from a small rental company and drove straight to the site, bailing on our hotel.”

Chris said both he and his Dad are sad to see the program end, but at the same time excited about the next phase, whatever that might be.

Thanks to Chris for sharing the image with Universe Today.


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sam July 11, 2011, 9:04 PM

    Unimaginable Really we appreciate Father and Son Great job don
    Space Research Center of Madras

  • Patrice Hundstad July 11, 2011, 11:51 PM

    This had to be so exciting despite the problems! Wonderful that you were able to make it there. Always wanted to go!

  • Anonymous July 12, 2011, 2:19 AM

    Hehehe, good job there guys:).

  • Joseph Reynoso July 12, 2011, 4:18 AM

    Wonderful image Chris. You and your dad are simply brilliant.

  • Anonymous July 12, 2011, 8:01 AM

    i was born the day the first photo was taken, as well, i share the same surname as Chris and his dad… AMAZING… two thumbs up!!!

  • Anonymous July 12, 2011, 8:01 AM

    i was born the day the first photo was taken, as well, i share the same surname as Chris and his dad… AMAZING… two thumbs up!!!

  • Ian Edmonds July 12, 2011, 11:20 PM

    This underlines the tragedy of the event. Human beings were once a space faring species. That time has passed.
    We should be ashamed.

    • Fnnkybutt July 16, 2011, 11:12 PM

      Human beings are still a space faring species. There are other space programs going on – just not paid for by the US govt – and our astronauts will still be going into space.

  • Anonymous July 18, 2011, 2:39 PM

    Una foto preciosa,se ve bien el paso del tiempo y el cariño del padre y el hijo.Pronto seremos
    todos polvo de estrellas.