CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — As Florida’s Space Coast gears up to make history on Saturday, a man who helped pave the way to sending Americans into space will be a spectator.

Former NASA Civil Engineer Robert Jordan was fresh out of college when he was recruited to be part of American history. Jordan has helped design the external tank swing arm that's used to fuel the shuttle and worked with the builder of the Orbiter.

“When we were told we were going to retire the shuttle, and we had a certain number of flights left, most of us believed it really wasn't going to happen,” he said.

Launch Pad 39 A is historic because that's where the first shuttle launched from and the last in 2011.

With 135 missions flown during the shuttle program, Jordan says it's time to pass down the torch.

“Those 30 years was my time to serve my country by being part of this huge program. I love young people and how they think,” Jordan said.

For Jordan it's especially exciting watching SpaceX kicking off a new era of private human spaceflight.

“Now that I'm on this side, I certainly want it to be safe. I want our astronauts to be successful, but I'm not as nervous as I was,” he explained.

Jordan also leads a STEAM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Science) nonprofit charter school in Viera to raise the future workers for the space program.

Viera Charter School has an award-winning certified science teacher and is completing a new middle school to open in August. ​