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Former St. Marys resident Jenn Steele, now a resident of Titusville, Fla., submitted several photos of the final NASA space shuttle mission as the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on Friday, July 8. An estimated one million spectators gathered along Florida's space coast to witness the epic event. Due to overcast skies, many spectators only witnessed about 10 seconds of the launch before the shuttle disappeared into the clouds. Emotions ran high as the 30-year program marked an end of an era commemorating the 135th flight in the space shuttle program. The program began in 1981 and will come to an end when Atlantis touches down for the final time on July 20.
Within the next two weeks, an estimated 2,500 NASA employees at the Kennedy Space Center will lose their jobs as part of President Obama's termination of the United State's manned space flight program. According to information in The Wall Street Journal and the website www.floridatoday.com, a total of 9,000 people working in "direct" space jobs will join the ranks of the unemployed. In addition, 14,000 indirect jobs at nearby businesses such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores and more are expected to be lost, as they are all dependent on activity at the space center.