GirlHacker's Random Log

almost daily since 1999

Space Shuttle


A while ago I realized that if I wanted to see a space shuttle take off in person I had better do some planning. I kept an eye on the mission dates which never seemed to be convenient and thought about the NASA Tweetups which didn’t work because of the age restriction (I wanted to share the entire experience with my son). All of a sudden NASA was down to only two more shuttle missions and we had a school break coming up. I pushed through my pessimistic thinking that we’d never get flights or a place to stay, and my friend Clare and I managed to drag our sons, rather last minute, onto airplanes and into a lovely condo we found on Cocoa Beach. It seemed that everyone else was also there for the launch. We watched the preparations on NASA-TV and then ran onto the beach and saw the amazingly bright plume of STS-133 head up into the clouds, followed much later by the rumbling roar. It was lovely. The next day we went over to Kennedy Space Center, took the bus tour, and rode in the shuttle take-off simulator. We got up close to the crawler that transports the shuttles to the launchpad. It was crunching along the gravel road on its way back to the pad and the bus driver stopped so we could get a good look. I couldn’t believe the size of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Our tour guide pointed out an alligator and a bald eagle’s nest. Everything seemed bigger than life. Years from now I don’t know if my son will remember that he saw the space shuttle take off when he was six, but he can tell his friends he was there. And if all he remembers is that his obsessed mom dragged him all the way from one corner of the United States to another, that he got to shop at all the Harry Potter stores in the airport (I did deliberately neglect to point one out, sorry kiddo!), and that he and I got deplaned so I could get a full pat-down because someone in the TSA screwed up, well, that’s OK because we got to experience it all together. I’m pretty sure he’s going to remember the beach though. This is the best photo from the trip:

As Atlantis lands safely (please) today, I’ll be thinking of the lost Challenger and Columbia crews, especially David M. Brown who, to my knowledge, is the only astronaut who has come to see me play in a pit orchestra (he was dating a close friend of mine). And I’ll be wondering if our son will get to see the next manned U.S. spaceship take off.

Written by ltao

July 20th, 2011 at 1:38 am

Posted in space