I was out in the back yard surveying if I can get a NE-SW lobe on my array. I step inside and see the shuttle is ready to leave for orbit in 2 minutes. 3...2...1... I step out my back door and watched it go off. It's a perfect launch.
The southeast tree line lights up pink and orange when the candles are light, and in a few seconds I see the space ship start its climb over the tree line. A perfect white cloud exiting the rocket motors. As the shuttle lifts I see the gas cloud turn orange. I think to myself OH SHIT. The economy where I live is heavily dependent on space and if one of these goes down we all choke... for years. A lot of my friends are actual rocket scientists. I have friends in the control building right now. While I was in the operating room all day working on their family members, they have been out at the space port getting ready for just this moment. I have the best connection when I am at work. Husbands text their wives who are my nurses and I get the inside buzz. What I am seeing is the sun reflecting off the contrail and not some disaster in the making. It's dusk and the terminator is flying over my head towards Tampa.
The shuttle is probably 10 or 15 miles up by now. At exactly 63 seconds I start to hear the the roar of the rockets. It rattles the windows on my sunporch. (I'm 32 feet above sea level so you do the math.) That sound starts toward me from the moment the rockets are lit, and not from the shuttle overhead. I will continue to hear the noise from the shuttle overhead for about 6 more minutes. Pretty soon I see the solid boosters flame out and jettison. They sway away from the main path of flight at about 5 degrees one to the left and one to the right, and start their descent. Usually I loose them pretty quickly but tonight the sky over the Atlantic is clear probably for 100 miles and the contrast of the dusk sky to the east is perfect and I can see the white hot dots chute their way down to be picked up by their Navy tenders. I watch them fall nearly all the way to the tree line before I loose them
The shuttle continues. The solid rockets are orange and the fire tail is very long. The shuttle motors on the other hand are blue white and look like a star rising over the horizon and then the star starts to descend to the tree line as the shuttle gets out over the curve of the earth. I watch it until it disappears into the tree line, and walk back into the house at 6 minutes 40 seconds into the mission to hear the announcer say the shuttle is now 66 miles high and running 16,000 miles per hour. The shuttle is flying toward Spain, so it is a perfect marker for me to follow exactly where Spain is on my horizon. The shuttle's path is right in line with one of the possibilities for my array.
It never ceases to amaze me. The whole endeavor never ceases to amaze. Last week I watched a Delta II with the extra boosters night launch off toward Africa with the Kepler satellite on board.
Sandra Magnus is blogging from space. Me? I'm blogging from about 19.736 km from ground zero. The shuttle pads are to the east of the blue marker. Cape Canaveral Air Station is to the south of there. I think Barbara Eden still lives there.
If you look to the NW you will see the township of Turnbull. I live there. If you look real close at street view to the east side of the house you can see my 80M slef supporting vertical rising above the trees. It's the smudge that looks like a vertical. (Its actually on the back part of the property)
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