Space Shuttle Atlantis beat the odds and launched on schedule today, despite a weather forecast that was only 30 percent favorable for launch.

Traffic was heavy in the pre-dawn hours with record crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of history. The historic NASA press site had its largest crowd since the return to flight missions in 2005, with about 1,500 credentialed media in attendance in addition to NASA employees, contractors, and astronauts. Some proudly displayed their press credentials from the Shuttle’s first flight in 1981. 

Smiles and applause were mixed with tears as the Shuttle thundered away and the reality of the end of the program started sinking in. Several thousand Space Shuttle workers will soon be receiving pink slips, with many thousands more already out of work.

Atlantis is running with the smallest crew since the 1983, with only four astronauts heading into orbit instead of the usual seven. The smaller crew is necessary because of flight rules that require a rescue plan should the shuttle’s heat shield be compromised during launch. Those plans in the past always involved using another Space Shuttle to rescue the crew. With Discovery and Endeavour currently being prepped for retirement, the crew would instead stay on the International Space Station and be brought down one at a time from the station over the course of a year in Russian Soyuz capsules.

NASA officials now are focusing on the mission, which involves transferring 8,000 pounds of supplies and parts to the space station to hold over crews there until commercial resupply flights are ready later this year. Atlantis also will fly an experiment to refuel satellites in orbit.

Lon Seidman is the host and producer of “Lon.TV,” a consumer technology video show that is on a number of platforms including YouTube and Amazon. He creates in-depth, consumer-friendly product reviews and commentary. His YouTube channel has over 300,000 subscribers and more than 100 million views.

In addition to being a full-time content creator, Lon is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Hartford (his alma mater) where he teaches a course in entrepreneurial content creation.

Prior to becoming a full-time creator, Lon was a partner at The Safety Zone, his family’s business that manufactures gloves and safety equipment. The company has locations around the globe and employs over 200 people worldwide. The Safety Zone was acquired by the Genuine Parts Corporation in 2016.

Lon is also active in public service, serving as the Chairman of the Essex Board of Education, a member of the Region 4 Board of Education, and as the Secretary / Treasurer of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. He was endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans for his re-election in 2021.

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