PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Space shuttle Endeavour blasted off for the final time Monday morning in Florida.

This will be the second-to-last flight for NASA’s shuttle program. The mission is under the command of Mark Kelly, who is the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

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The wounded congresswoman watched the launch in private at Kennedy Space Center.

Tens of thousands watched the event from NASAs launch site and nearby. In our area, some local students watched with special intent as well.

It was an unusual and exciting Monday morning for some students at Sewickley Academy.

For a room of students, the minutes leading up to Endeavour’s take-off were spent anxiously waiting.

“Seeing it going up and seeing it just… I’m just imaging how exciting it would be to do that. And to just see the Earth as a little tiny ball and saying, ‘How many people are there watching you?’” fifth grader Peter Goebel said.

The students at Sewickley Academy feel a special bond with one of the astronauts on board.

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Colonel Mike Fincke is a mission specialist on Endeavour. He also graduated from the academy in 1985.

“It’s really cool. And just knowing that could be one of us is really awesome,” Goebel said.

Colonel Fincke has visited the school before and spoke with the students last year from space.

Some of the students were empowered after meeting him and said seeing the launch is just inspiring.

“To follow your dream and do what you want to. And I think that’s important because we only have one life to live so it’s important to live it how we want to,” Olivia Ryder said.

Endeavour’s final mission will last for 16 days.


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