Cape Canaveral Braces for Its New Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CNS) – Unemployment and the economy dominate the news, but on Florida’s Space Coast, hit hard by the shutdown of the shuttle program, efforts to make “something better for the future” are already underway, said the Kennedy Space Center’s director.

“Change is what you make it,” said Robert Cabana. “It’s hard because people become comfortable in what they know, but in order to have something better – you have to change. I prefer to think we have a positive future.”

Cabana, a Catholic, was an astronaut for four shuttle missions. He also is a veteran, having served for 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“We expected transition in the military and took it in stride,” he said. “It’s harder for the folks here that have been here 25-30 years. This is what they know and there aren’t enough jobs to stay here. They have to go elsewhere.”

“Yes, it’s difficult to have something you know come to an end, but we have the chance to make something better for the future,” said Cabana, a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Merritt Island.

Bishop John G. Noonan of Orlando also spoke about the end of the shuttle program and the effects on the community.

He recalled that John Glenn’s orbit of the earth took place almost 50 years ago – on Feb. 10, 1962.

“I remember watching it on television in Ireland and then coming here to Orlando and experiencing the last shuttle launch – to experience the sonic boom and all that happened in between – all that Neil Armstrong did with his walk on the moon and the sad memories of the astronauts that lost their lives,” said the Irish-born bishop.

The space center is located in the area covered by the Orlando Diocese, which he has headed since December 2010.

“Still, I realize what the cape means not just to us, but to the world. And what has come out of the program – there are so many things we take for granted – technology, medicine, communication.”