Local students see last shuttle launch in person

Eight students from Blackfoot and Mountain View Middle School science teacher Alan Southern were at Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday morning to see the final launch of the space shuttle.
These nine Blackfoot adventurers are part of the Idaho Space Grant Consortium that was awarded a NASA grant as part of NASA's Summer of Innovation Projects. Eighty students and 20 chaperones from Idaho traveled to Florida to see the launch.
Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 9:29 a.m. MDT Friday.
"It was a beautiful launch," said coordinator Aaron Thomas, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Idaho. "The weather was overcast and there was a 70 percent chance the shuttle would not launch.
"We're very excited," he said. "It was great.
Thomas said the group was up at 4 a.m. in order to board buses at 5. It took two hours to travel 15 miles.
About 1.2 million people were expected in the area for the final launch, he said.
The group will tour the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday before returning to Idaho on Monday.
Students targeted in this grant program are from underrepresented student populations. Student populations targeted in the Blackfoot area are Native American and Hispanic.