Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"..and the rockets red glare"

I let out a great big sigh of relief as the shuttle successfully re-entered the atmosphere and came to a safe landing after a flawless mission. As an admitted "space nut", I offer kudos to NASA for letting us have a nose camera view of the final approach!

Years ago I was fortunate enough to be in Florida tourism management and arrangements were made for me to watch a shuttle launch. I arose early in Titusville and drove in the dark per insructions to a spot on the causeway about 2 miles from the launch tower. Among the neatly arranged parked cars, trucks and campers, about every 50 feet or so there was a speaker on a stand and we all listened to the chit-chat as they prepared to start the countdown.

After a brief 5-minute delay (a plane had wandered into a prohibited zone), we heard the familiar ....5 -4 - 3 - 2 - 1 and the huge engines erupted and WE HAD LIFTOFF! Moments later the loud roar washed over us.

The upside-down lighted candle rose majestically and slowly rotated to the right as it hurtled upwards and angled downrange above us, getting smaller and smaller at the head of a huge column of smoke. What a rush!

I finished the last of the coffee in the bright red Thermos that had been handed to me along with my credentials and headed to the KSC tourist area where, amid the garden of giant rockets and boosters on display for visitors , the PA system kept us informed of the progress going on hundreds of miles above us. It was only about 10 in the morning. My day on earth had barely begun.


At Tue Jul 18, 12:50:00 PM , Anonymous Jared said...

That must have been a sight to see. I need to get down there -- maybe not nearly as close as you were :) -- to see a launch before the shuttle program is retired.

Thought you'd find this interesting -- here's all the operational details of the launch you saw. :)


-- Jared

At Wed Jul 19, 03:12:00 PM , Blogger Daniel said...

Little known fact: When the weather is right and the space shuttle is scheduled for a night launch, you can see the take off from the roof of The Post and Courier.


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