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? 


  1. I'd really have to think about the moments in history question - since none come to mind.

    When I lived in San Angelo, TX I saw the space shuttle streaking across the sky just before dawn, as it was headed for Florida to make a landing. Can't remember what year it was.

  2. RFK's funeral train from NYC to WAS
    the bicentennial celebrations
    the 2008 phillies world series win :)

  3. Anonymous9/19/2016

    Not sure it was really a moment in history but, but it's something which sticks in my mind as a moment in MY history. About 10 years ago I was on my way home late at night in central London. I was standing at a junction (Green Park I think) right by the traffic lights. I was completely alone when a car with large glass windows drove past and turned slowly in front of me. The inside of the car was illuminated. Sitting on the back seat was The Queen. She had a crown on. She didn't notice me. What sticks in my mind was I went to MacDonalds straight after and ate a quarter pounder. I remember wondering what The Queen had eaten.

    1. I Love It, There are lots of potential Queen jokes, but I really think Queen Elizabeth is a neat person - I doubt she has ever stopped at Mac Donalds.

  4. Wow. I am impressed David. I have a few moments where I witnessed history and even participated but no " space" stuff fortunately. The closest I get is the Smithsonisn Institution in Washington DC.