We went down to Cape Canaveral to join our sailing friends on yacht Arwen to view the last of the night launches in NASA’s shuttle program. Scheduled to liftoff on Sunday at 4 am. it was cancelled (“scrubbed”) just minutes after the much anticipated launch time (yes, I got up then, and had already bundled up, without even a cup of coffee!)–scrubbed because of the dense cloud cover overhead, making for unpredictable, dangerous weather conditions. NASA says everything about the shuttle itself was A-OK. You can image the excitement….the 6 astrounants (one woman aboard) belted into their seats for the previous 4 hours (yes, they wear diapers at this stage, folks!) as the rockets were fueled up with thousands of gallons of liquid this and oxygenated that….while we aboard Arwen, our friends’ floating home, and myriad RV, tenting, campfire-gathered spectators camped out on the shore, and millions more around the globe who are avid space-traveler-watchers; all of us waited in hushed expectation. With our sweaters tightly buttoned under windbreakers to ward off the 40+ degree F. frigid weather, and our cameras poised ready for focusing….we waited. But on Sunday pre-dawn morning, the day we waited with our German friends out on anchor (no other boats around—I wonder why not?) the launch was canceled shortly after the expected liftoff time.
BUT—this morning at the same 4am. expected window of opportunity, the launch succeeded. Here are a couple shots sent by our friends Dani and Jens from their iPhone.
We counldn’t stay aboard Arwen for the actual launch … but I saw the launch-scene for myself on the “trial test,” the 4am canceled event. I got to feel the thrill, the unprecedented excitement of seeing a twenty-story high rocket launching with humans aboard, and am now a committed NASA junkie groupie wunderkind. More stories about Endeavor and NASA’s outstanding space program in the future!
“This was one of the smoothest countdowns ever,” Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director said. “The team was very, very energized going into the count.”
Endeavor will rush now to link up with the space station. They will dock on day three of flight, install the Tranquility node and then the cupula permanently to the International Space Station. The astronaunts are scheduled to return to Earth in 13 days.
Adventuring in space is surely one of the most significant achievements, one of the greatest glories of being human! Seeing this marvelous sight somehow deflects the pain of all the crap of humankind’s lower tendencies, our “base” natures, the conflict, disrepect, even the long lines and humiliations of security searches due to the modern trend of terrorism, not to mention the age-old human tendency of violent crime and the senseless brutality of war. This enterprise of space travel we humans are capable of is simply mind-blowingly astounding. Seeing this launch renews my trust in the human story. It makes me happy, so happy, to be a member of the human race. There is HOPE! We must focus on the hope, not the despair of our human condition here ….whether on Earth or …. wherever we venture.
As my friend Dani tells it, “The shuttle lit up the entire sky….it made everything ENLIGHTENED!”
in the LIGHT of all your inner travels, as well as the magnificence of space travel,
your pal lordflea sends warm waves of love to each of you