Space Shuttle Discovery launch

(STS 124)

(May 2008)

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I have always been interested in space.  I'm not sure if it was growing up in the 70's and 80's, with space being a part of popular culture (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, "Space Lego's", etc), or if I'm unnaturally attracted to things that are fast, loud and pop out of Earth's atmosphere.  In either case, I've wanted to see a Space Shuttle launch for some time now.  After a cursory Google search, I learned that any U.S. citizen can petition their congressional representative for prime launch seating at the Kennedy Space Center, and better yet, the seating is free.  This appealed to me on a couple of different levels, the first being that I enjoy making the government "work" for me, and the second was that I love to save a nickel.  After six months of emailing back and forth with congressional staffers, our coveted "Congressional VIP causeway" tickets arrived from NASA.  A bit drawn out to be sure, but well worth the effort.

The "Congressional VIP causeway" tickets entitled us to a bus ride to and from the Kennedy Space Center, as well as free-for-all seating (think general admission rock concert) about 6.5 miles from the launch pad (39a).  The seats had an unobstructed view of Space Shuttle Discovery from lift off to external fuel tank separation.  It was awesome!  Beyond the crackling roar of the engines that were felt as much as heard, and unbelievable speed (from 0 to 16,000 m.p.h. in 8 minutes), I was impressed with how bright the rockets were - comparable to the sun . . . and like a beautiful sunset, I knew I shouldn't look directly at the surreal glow, but just couldn't take my eyes away.  I'm still seeing spots.

As a side note, this trip was a "sister trip" to the families spring break trip taken about a month and a half earlier.  Seeing the Kennedy Space Center museums, having lunch with an astronaut, and doing the "NASA up close" tour was a really good preparation for the Shuttle Launch.  It certainly gave Sierra and Cooper a better appreciation of this "once in a lifetime" experience.

To see photos from the trip, click here for a gallery view, or here for a slideshow view.

Elaine's video of the launch

NASA video of the launch (STS 124)

NASA's photos gallery of STS 124


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