My cousin is an actual, real-life rocket scientist and works on the space shuttles. He sent me an email this morning with some great photos taken by a friend of his of Discovery's last launch, along with some comments. I'm sharing this with his permission:
An acquaintance of mine shot these photos from the Titusville, FL causeway. They were spectacular enough that I thought I would send them to a few people...This was Discovery’s last flight.
The current launch manifest for the Shuttle program is [currently] only funded for one more shuttle flight. We will have a second flight set of hardware built and available, so the current thought is that if we can get the funding to continue operations for a few more months, we will have the second flight. That’s it. The end. No more shuttle program, and for the foreseeable future, no American manned spaceflight program.
I’ll call that the end of an era and shed a few tears.