February 24, 1997
Earlier this month, following our 50th anniversary party, I had a chance to get away for a week’s vacation to Florida. The idea of heading to Disney and warmer parts was kicked around for maybe a month before we left, so plus were quick and not quite complete.
As timing would have it, NASA was kind enough to time their shuttle launch with our vacation, allowing myself and a friend to view the spectaular show of a shuttle launch first hand. The Discovery was headed heavenly to do repairs and scheduled servicing on the Hubble Space Telescope.
After a long drive down, towing my trailer through a snowstorm in West Virginia, we arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday. We were not disappointed. From the press center, located three and half miles from the launch site, the shuttle looked as big as we were. However, the vehicle assembly building, next door to us was monstrous.
On Monday night, after a full day of theme park hopping and a few hours of rest, we headed east to watch the launch. After passing through two check point gates, we arrived with 55 minutes on the count-down clock.
I ran around setting up my camera and video camera. My pictures are nothing compared to NASA’s, but I would know they were mine.
During the hold at T minus nine minutes, I recall thinking about the millions of things that are going on right then to make the launch successful. I also recall thinking about the unsuccessful launch of the Challenger.
Then it happened. 3…2…1… lift off. From three and a half miles away I heard the rockets ignite; I saw it lift off; and, as it cleared the tower, I could feel it rubbing through the air. It was all over in a few minutes, but what a show!
We have a video of the last 25 seconds on the countdown until the shuttle’s main engines cut off once in space. I’ sure I’ll wear out the tape in to time.
Right now its Friday morning and I’m listening to the NASA audio feed on our trusty scanner as the Discovery heads back to Mother Earth. It’s a flawless landing at 3:32 am, after almost ten days in space and 4.1 million miles of flight.
Oh, by the way, we enjoyed 88 degrees and sun on Friday, while I understand it was a bit messy here. Well, maybe our timing we pretty good after all.
If you happened to pass by our office last week, and noticed a trailer in the parking lot it’s mine. Between the ice and snow, then the warmth and rain (making the ground a sea of mud) I have’t been able to get the trailer back home, darn winter.