Monday, September 19, 2016
Space Shuttle Memories
I was living in Florida when the space shuttle program took flight. I can remember the NASA briefings at the Kennedy Space Center talking about this exciting new design, the first gliding tests in California, then the arrival at the Space Center of this new vehicle.
I was standing on the banks of the Indian River just across from the Space Center the morning of the first launch, I had driven over from Orlando the night before and stayed at my parents house (they had not yet retired and were in Michigan on the farm,) I needed to get to Orlando for work that morning. I did this twice, the first attempt was down to go for main-engine start and it stopped. The second time it went. You see it for second before you hear it, you hear it for seconds before you feel it, and you do feel it, the air and the ground vibrate as the spacecraft pushes off the launch pad. You can see it for over a minute as it speeds away.
The first few landings were on the west coast, then they started landing at the Cape. There was less to see on the landing, and it was much faster than the lift off. I saw a few landings. I saw many launches, including a couple of night launches out on the Space Center. I missed the Challenger explosion, I was working in Orlando, talking to a client on the phone who watching the launch out his office window, he simply said, "oh-shit that is not right, I'll call you back" and hung up, we picked up the conversation a week later.
I was working in DC when the orbiter above flown in for display at the Smithsonian out at Dulles. They took it on a low-slow loop around the city, we went up to the roof of the building to watch the legend fly into retirement.
What moments in history have you witnessed?