The launch of space shuttle Endeavour early this morning was just absolutely amazing. I tried to express what the experience was like on my post on Universe Today, but quickly ran out of superlatives. People can tell you that a shuttle launch is going to be loud and that a night launch will be amazingly bright, but nothing can prepare you for what the experience is really like.
And video and pictures really don’t capture what the experience is like, either. However, there are a couple of videos of the launch which are really great! Above, a group of Space Tweeps were here for the launch and @NoisyAstronomer, a.k.a. Nicolle Gugliucci (who I met on Sunday!) took this awesome video from the Causeway. It captures the excitement of the launch when you witness it with friends!
Below is a video that was taken from almost right where I was standing, and it kind of captures the brightness of booster ignition and the crackling and popping of the rockets burning, but when you’re there, the brightness, noise and sound waves just absolutely overwhelm you. You don’t only hear and see a space shuttle launch, you *feel* it! I heard an astronaut (who is on this shuttle mission) describe it as “it seems the air just isn’t big enough for the sound.” That sums it up pretty well.
So what’s next? No rest for the sleep deprived. Early Tuesday morning I head back to KSC to watch the rollout to the launchpad of the Atlas 5 rocket that is carrying the Solar Dynamics Observatory. I’m hoping to see my new BFF Camilla the rubber chicken tomorrow morning, too.
It seems fitting that for my first launch, I saw Endeavour blast off. Endeavour was the name of the 1/3-actual-sized inflatable space shuttle that I carted around to schools when I worked at the Science Museum of Minnesota. As I related yesterday to a a budding young astronaut yesterday who was interviewing people about how and why they were involved with space, my experience at the museum was really why I started writing. One of the activities for the “Space Discovery” program I lead was to teach children about the International Space Station and show them how they could see the ISS in the night sky from their own backyards. I sent home a letter to parents, explaining how they could help their child see the ISS. Several different times, when the parents would come to school the day we set up the space shuttle in the school gym, parents would come up and say how great it was to see the ISS, especially since they didn’t even know that there was a space station in orbit! That made me want to get the word out on all the wonderful things going on in space exploration, and so I started writing.
And now, here I am, able to have this amazing experience at Kennedy Space Center because I’m now a full-time journalist.
I’m having the time of my life. This is so. much. fun!