by William Lee, Maverick1000 Member #100
After getting back from UG7 and speaking to M1000 Member #128 Ben Roy, who had just watched the prior launch, I made an effort to see Shuttle Endeavor’s launch. After being advised that there were only two more launches left, I made it a priority.
I even enrolled M1000 Member #61 Mike Cline and his friend Angela Melito to go. Angela works at NASA and went through lengths to get us all causeway passes — possibly the closes civilians get to see the launch, without actually being a NASA employee or having a press pass.
Watching the NASA launch required a quite a bit of planning logistics:
The first launch was canned and rescheduled two weeks later, which coincidentally worked for me at the time. Then on April 29th, as we sat on the causeway awaiting the launch, an announcement came over the speakers just two hours shy saying there was something wrong with the APU (auxiliary power unit, or something similar). Bummer.
I had a few days to spend in Orlando, so Mike Cline took me out to the Pre-Burning Man event. We partied it up and had a great time… the best part being getting to see my friends drunk. That’s when you get to really know a friend. 😉
On the flight back home, I met an Irish guy who overheard my conversation with the passenger next to me, and told me how it is his lifelong dream to watch a shuttle launch. The man was in his 50s; and he’d travelled all the way to Florida to watch the launch and was terribly disappointed to go home without having witnessed it. My heart goes out to him.
After I got back to NYC, NASA made a series of announcements about when they are looking to launch. When they nailed the May 20th date, I was ecstatic — coincidentally, I was already booked for Orlando that week.
When countdown commenced, I positioned my D-SLR HD video at the ready; and when the shuttle launched, it was rad-hot! There are few things, if anything, that man has invented to be more powerful than these rockets. We estimated to be viewing from about 2-3 miles away from the launchpad — with a clear line of sight — and it took about 5-10 seconds before we were able to hear the roar of the rockets at launch. Amazing!
The rumble as the shuttle cleared the skies and reached for the stars simply leaves you humbled and moved. There was some serious power being witnessed, and I was expecting my body to shake with the rumbles from the rockets. I felt a little rumbling, and thought perhaps it was more of a technological design feature than it was for personal expectations. I am so lucky to be able to see this.