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A Space Shuttle, a premier, and an ocean

Space shuttle Atlantis (Photo/AP)

Well down at the Kennedy Space Centre right now, they're prepping for the final flight of the shuttle program. 

It's due to go up July 8 for the very last time. 

NASA's vision for economic, re-useable transportation delivering people and payloads -- and perhaps space's secrets itself -- is a casualty of earthbound budget cuts after more than 40 years.

But when Atlantis does go up, Rick already knows a particular song will run through his head with the same painful intensity as the roar of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters.

 Rick's essay


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