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.