Friday, July 8, 2011

The Next Best Thing To Being There

Darling-Sister-In-Law, who lives and works on the Space Coast, called yesterday to tell us her name was pulled in a drawing for a ticket to watch the final Space Shuttle launch.

The ticket was a "vehicle ticket" which allowed her to drive her vehicle, with passengers, to a viewing site. She called to ask if we wanted to be some of those passengers.

There was a chance that the shuttle lift-off would be scrubbed because of weather conditions and if it was scrubbed, the lift-off would be pushed to two days later. So, The Colonel and I checked the weather situation and it did not look good. We hedged our bets that the launch would be scrubbed. We planned to make the 3-hour drive this weekend to watch the shuttle launch on Sunday. We lost the bet (blast it all)...the Space Shuttle Atlantis had lift-off as scheduled, today at 11:26 AM.

Since we weren't going to watch the launch in person we did the next best thing...Yam and I turned on the NASA channel. We also hit record on the DVR, as The Colonel was not at home to watch with us and we knew he would want to see this historical Space Shuttle launch. I grabbed my camera so that I could take pictures of the television screen (I knew I would need them for this blog entry...ever the Blogger).

30 years and 135 missions have gone before this final Space Shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center. This is the 33rd mission for the Space Shuttle Atlantis and its first was on October 3, 1985.

Atlantis' 4-person crew will be on a 12-day mission. They are heading to the International Space Station and hauling a module packed with nearly 10,000 pounds of supplies and equipment. One-third of that is food. These supplies will last the International Space Station through next year.

An estimated one million people were watching the launch at the viewing sites. Yam and I looked for Darling-Sister-In-Law on the television but didn't see her. She called us after the launch to tell us it was cloudy there and some of her pictures were not as good as she would have liked and she was stuck in lots of traffic with everyone leaving the viewing areas.

I had no traffic to fight and I think I got some pretty decent photos of the launch considering I snapped them from the television screen. Sitting at home, I was able to get close up shots of Atlantis.

The launch.

I also got shots of Atlantis in space. Here is one of the booster rockets separating from the shuttle.

This is a shot of the shuttle separating from the main booster.

As soon as we saw Atlantis leave the launchpad, Yam and I ran outside to see if we could see the shuttle in the sky from our backyard. We have seen launches in the past but not today, it was too cloudy.

Huge expenses to maintain and fly the shuttle fleet has caused some to think the fleet has outlived its usefulness. Some argue that the shuttles should be flown until something new was in place to guarantee our nation's leadership position in space and human access to space, not to mention the thousands of jobs lost at Kennedy Space Center (better get more of those "Shovel-Ready" jobs ready Mr. Obama).

When Atlantis returns to Earth its new home will be a $20 million building at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex.

Atlantis is scheduled to return on July 20th, G-Pa's (aka My Favorite Father-In-Law) birthday. On the same day in 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Just thought that was a neat bit of trivia to share.

I would have liked to have seen this historical shuttle launch in person, but watching it on television was the next best thing to being there.

This is what an end of an era looks like from where Yam and I sat.

1 comment:

  1. I really wanted to be there too! If only it had gone off on the ORIGINAL launch date, we would have had an ocean front view.

    They told us on our Kennedy Space Center tour that they are aiming for another man on the moon launch by 2020. Maybe we will be able to witness that one in person.