Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Lift Off

My dad's dearest friend since childhood worked for NASA at the Houston (Johnson) Space Center. He began with Mercury and retired well into the Shuttle era in the late 90's. For a time he was the "voice of NASA" during lift off and return. He also had a stint as Public Relations Director. Traveling with astronauts during public relations trips, he was made to promise he would never write a book though he assisted Gene Kranz with his book, "Failure is not an Option."

My oldest daughter was the biggest space buff in the family. Jack put her on the press list so she received all the press kits. Armed with large "official" packets of knowledge, she could tell you at any given moment exactly where the space craft was and what they were doing that very second. She was obsessed with being an astronaut but alas, was too short.

Dad had a large motor home and loved an excuse to use it. Jack would send passes to get on the Space Center grounds for the Shuttle launches. That shot you see on TV of the big count down clock.... right there. It's as close as you can get. The experience of a launch is incredible and unforgettable. We went often and each one was exciting in it's own right.

The atmosphere in the crowd is always one of nervous excitement. Everyone anticipating the spectacular to come. As the countdown clock ticks off the minutes and seconds the drama builds. As the last 10 seconds are counted down, the ground begins to tremble... traveling deep into your soul enhancing the excitement. Birds flee as the steam begins to rise creating huge bellowing clouds around the pad. The rumbling intensifies as the bright orange flames appear and the rocket slowly begins it's assent. As the enormous ship rises, seemingly in slow motion, the picture is magnificent against the clear blue Florida sky. Watching this impressive sight, you can't help but swell with emotion. The spectators cheer and applaud. It is truly a one of a kind experience. And that's the daytime launches.... a night shot is absolutely unbelievably beautiful. We slept in a van to be there when Sally Ride became the first woman in space just before dawn. Breathtaking is an understatement.

Watching Discovery lift off the memories of all those visits to the Cape returned and I felt myself wishing I were there.
Safe journey to the crew.


At 8:45 AM, Blogger RED QUILT MAKER said...

Terrific post!
I wish you were there too.

At 3:32 AM, Blogger alan said...

Tears flowing as I read this wonderful post!

Thank you for it!



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