Space Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off, and Florida's Space Coast Mourns as Program Winds Down

"To tell you the truth, there's much to say," said Nagel "I just have a prayer, Godspeed to you, Atlantis…."

At the Kennedy Space Center store nearby -- the Mecca of shuttle merchandise where you can find badges, stuffed bears in space suits, caps and shuttle replicas -- Jim and David Puente hauled an armful of merchandise to the counter.

"When we were young, my dad would fly out here from Chicago. We'd sit out along the road and camp to watch the shuttle go up at night or early morning like folks used to," said David. "So I dragged my brothers down here, because it's down to the last three."

Hanging On

He called it depressing that the shuttle program is slated for the scrap heap. "If they can find the money to go to war," he said, "they could find money to update the space program."

Much would change in these sleepy towns once the shuttle, the most complex machine ever built, is retired. But not the name of Shuttle's, Bill Grillo's bar.

"I will absolutely not change the name. It's been with the restaurant for 32 years," Grillo said, "long before I picked it up. It's always had great history and I hope it stays that way, long after I've sold it."

On launch days -- and even better, on days or nights that a shuttle launch is scrubbed -- the place has been crammed with patrons.

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