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Bay Area Space Fans Gather For Historic Final Shuttle Launch

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Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch

Space shuttle Atlantis blasts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Centern July 8, 2011 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This lift off is the last in the 30-year-old shuttle program. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – More than 200 people gathered at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland Friday morning to watch the final launch of space shuttle Atlantis.

A crowd that included a large number of children watched the 8:29 a.m. launch together on a big screen at the museum, said Chabot spokesman Robert Ade. Only around half the crowd raised their hands when asked if they remembered the first shuttle launch.

The successful launch came as a relief after inclement weather and delays led many to fear it might not occur.

While the launch was the last of its kind, Ade said the event was more exciting than sad.

“I don’t see sad, I see a kind of pride,” Ade said. “It’s a memorable moment.”

“Everybody’s very excited but also looking forward to the next step in space exploration,” Ade added. “There are some very exciting unmanned missions planned.”

The astronauts on the flight included San Carlos native and University of California at Berkeley graduate Rex Walheim.

The NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View also hosted a viewing party for the shuttle launch Friday morning.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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