Monday, March 16, 2009

Lift Off!

From NASA:

Space shuttle Discovery launched March 15, 2009 at 7:43 p.m. EDT, carrying a crew of seven and the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station. The successful liftoff highlighted a day of perfect Florida weather and a smooth countdown.

Because Otis is a possible landing site if the Space Shuttle got into trouble, our FD went on full-alert tonight. There is a window of time after lift-off from Cape Canaveral that if the shuttle needed to land, it could land here. Our runway is one of the longest on the east coast, but I was glad that we didn't need to test that it was long enough tonight. All the bells and whistles, apparatus and equipment were dispatched out on the runway, while all of us in the COMM center were closely watching NASA TV. It brought back the memories of when I was a kid, watching the Apollo Moon Landing.
I remember how I was in complete and utter awe at the fact that I was watching a man walk on the moon. I remember sitting close to the TV, watching the grainy black and white figures and I can still hear Armstrong's words, "The Eagle has landed". The excitement is still there for me, as I watched this launch, in full-screen mode on my computer. The countdown, the lift-off... all an intrical part of a larger picture; man's technological advances so evolved that we are now able to put an object as large as the shuttle into orbit. At launch, the Shuttle, external tank, solid rocket boosters and all the fuel combined has a total weight of 4.4 million pounds! It can also carry a 65,000 payload. To me, that is an awesome feat! Tonight's only regret? If I had been able to be outside, I could have witnessed the streak across the sky, along with the others who knew and watched.


  1. I watched the launch, as well. I may not be a kid any longer, but I STILL get a huge thrill out of watching stuff like that.

    t brought back the memories of when I was a kid, watching the Apollo Moon Landing.

    I was a kid, too... kinda-sorta. I watched the landings in real-time in an after-hours bar (in the very wee small hours) on NHK, with Japanese commentary voiced over the NASA feed. The commentary was confusing, to say the least, but we got the odd word in here and there... enough to know what was going on.

    There was MUCH whoopin' and hollerin' that night, drunk GIs being what they are. But it was something I'LL never forget, LOL!

  2. So interesting. I remember, in my youth, being aware of every detail of any space launch. Now, it's gotten to the point where I wasn't aware of there even having been a launch. Times change.

  3. Sometimes I just wish we had window's period in our center. I would be happy watching the star's. However, watching the shuttle take off is an awe inspiring moment!

  4. *sigh* windows would be nice! Why do you think we are all our windowless room in the dark....LOL

  5. Buck - whooping it up with a bunch of drunk GI's... now THAT sounds like a lot of fun!
    Jim - I agree, if it weren't for this job I probably would have been unaware. I still have a look around NASA's website from time to time though. Sure would love to see a launch from Cape Canaveral or thereabouts!
    Dispatcher - before we relocated our center was at the top of a hill that overlooked the harbor - windows had a spectacular view and we were spoiled! The new place has giant shatter-proof, sealed and barred windows that overlook the runways.... even so, it's much better than what you describe!
    KV- good to hear from you girl! You made me laugh with the mushroom reference... Where I work, there was a huge scandal about the ground water contamination from years of dumping ammo etc. Said blue mushrooms were growing out in the front yards of some of the homes nearby! Of course it's all been cleaned up now... we hope!

  6. The launches get so little coverage that I miss most.

    I still find the whole program fascinating and try to read all I can about it.

  7. Ya know... I didn't mention the bar was in Wakkanai, Japan... as far north as you can get in Nippon without (a) getting your feet wet and (b) being in Russia (Sakhalin). I thought the NHK reference was enough, but it might not have been. Sorry 'bout that!

  8. Hammer - I know what you mean... it's grown to be a common place occurrence. No hype from the media anymore.

    Buck - I was thinking the AFB but not about the language barrier... it must have seen like a cartoon from that perspective!

  9. I saw this one live (on TV), brought back memories of the first night launch STS-8 in 1983. I was sitting in a P-3 4nm off the Cape at 10,000 feet in the rescue box. When the shuttle went co-altitude with us, we FELT and HEARD it... Still brings chills, but in a good way!

  10. Wow Jim... that's incredible! I'm totally jealous... tell me, what is a rescue box?

  11. It's the area where the helo and fixed wing acft orbit during launches to be readily available for rescue assistance. It's 90 degrees off axis from the launch trajectory, starting about 4nm downrange and is 10nm on a side... or at least it was...