Sunday, September 4, 2011

The One In Which We Got To See #NASA History #Atlantis

I am so glad I was able to make the trip to Florida for NASA's final shuttle launch, and super psyched I got to take my sisters along with me. Not only was it a once in a lifetime thing, but it was a trip that I know they will never forget.

I know I have neglected sharing those pictures and stories with all of you, but I'm getting it done now! 

As soon as Bush reinstated shuttle launches a couple years ago
and announced that NASA would be wrapping up the space shuttle program (we heard a lot of Obama whining, and like the guy or not, I really wish people would educate themselves, because it only makes you sound dumb), I knew that I had a limited amount of time to get my butt to Florida. 

Growing up, I always wanted to see one, and I always wanted to go to space camp too. It just never happened. My parents had a family business and we didn't know we were going on vacation till mom woke us up early in the a.m. and threw us in the van with our bags packed for a surprise weekend away. Don't get me wrong, those trips were great and I had tons of fun, but seeing a shuttle launch has always been a dream. 

Well, time got away from me too, and every shuttle launch for the last two years has been watched and noted-- online. After Endeavor took off though, I knew it was do or die, so I began planning a trip. 

I ended up driving a straight 26, leaving Chicago on Wednesday night/Thursday morning and arriving very early a.m. in Titusville, FL on Friday. Atlantis was scheduled to take off just before noon, but I knew that the town would be a zoo by 8 a.m. And it was already a mad house at 3 a.m. when we first got there. 

Our first spine tingling view of Atlantis, KSC and Titusville!

Staking out or spot. Notice we are the last line of defense in this lot. There was a family that camped out and one row of viewers in front of us.

8 a.m. I had been awake for more hours than I care to advertise, packing & planning, working a full shift, packing car, going over last minute details, driving cross country & then they were the ones that could not stay awake! 
The one shot of the 4 of us, right before liftoff, looking like poop :) It got pretty testy at times as more people showed up and folks were blocking views of those that had been sitting out there for hours.
And then it finally happened! The whole time up until it took off we were on edge and worried because at 3 a.m. they were already saying it wasn't going to happenIt was cold, windy and cloudy out and there was a 30% favorable chance for launch by 4 a.m. 

All morning it was touch and go. But finally the countdown started, and we were nowhere near the loudspeakers or a countdown clock so we didn't realize right away that the clock was stopped at T-31 seconds.  When she didn't take off everyone was kinda looking at each other, and word spread fast that there was a problem. A lot of breath holding till people started counting down again!

Our video isn't pretty, or the best you'll see, we uploaded it to Youtube almost immediately so that we could share it with our family back home.  What it does capture is our excitement, and the excitement of the folks around us.

Just listening to it now makes me laugh because Missy is shooting and repeating almost everything I say in the background :)  Anyway, did you see how big that crowd was???  There were people on the rooftops of buildings faster than the police could make them get down. And then they started filling in the river too-- did you see the kayakers way out there?

It was The Coolest Thing Ever, and something I will never forget. I don't think there will ever be a trip to match this one, unless I can get a ride to Space next. Hmmmm.......