A Once in a Lifetime Experience

I’m going to start with something that happened several months ago but will stick with me for a lifetime. The shuttle Endeavour launch was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

Hannah and I drove down to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida from DC. (Well, to be truthful, Hannah drove the entire way. Thanks, Hannah!) We left at 8pm on a Friday to avoid the pending snow storm that ruined DC for an entire week. The first storm. Fourteen hours later including a long detour to enjoy a few Panera bagels, we made it to Cocoa Beach.

Going on very little sleep and a lot of caffeine – which is very rare for Hannah – we prepared for the first launch window. It was a night launch, so we left the house at 1am – Phillip’s parents were nice enough to let us stay with them in a beach house they had rented for the week – in order to make it to KSC with enough time to get settled for the 4am launch window. The countdown began, then it held, then it resumed, then it held. Three hours later and after much exhausted anticipation, the countdown resumed at 4 minutes. Only to be scrubbed two seconds later!

For all of you who don’t know what it means to scrub a launch, join the club. I watched, in confusion, as people raced to their cars with lawn chairs, blankets, coolers and binoculars in tow. A few minutes later we learned, via the loud speakers, that clouds had formed over the launch site and the launch was canceled – set to be retried the following night – to protect the astronauts’ safety. With clouds covering the launch pad, engineering could not guarantee a safe landing in the event that the shuttle would need to make an emergency grounding in the first few minutes after launch. After a few hours in the car, we learned why everyone had raced back to their vehicles – to make it to the exit quickly. It took us something like 5 hours to get back to the hotel!

The second day in Florida was almost torture. We hadn’t had much sleep in two days but we were determined to head back to the launch site for the second attempt so we all had to stay awake. Phillip’s parents took us mini golfing to keep us moving. Thanks, Tom and Susan! And we spent the other half of the evening watching the super bowl – poor Colts! (By the way, did you all see this super bowl commercial? Bud Light Super Bowl Commercial Phillip and I both got several text messages after it aired. Everyone seemed to want to believe that it was a glimpse into our daily lives. Sadly, No!)

At 1am the next morning we headed back out. Hannah and I discussed several times how we may break down into tears – mostly from pure exhaustion – if the launch was scrubbed a second time. As the countdown drew to a close, the excitement in the viewing area was unreal. Turns out it was well worth the exhaustion, patience and travel…

Needless to say, on February 8th, 2010 we saw Endeavour, the 32nd shuttle to the ISS, launch into the VERY clear sky.

Happiness to last a lifetime!

Want to check out what the Endeavour went to the ISS to do? Shuttle Mission STS130 Endeavour delivered a third connecting module – the Tranquility node – to the station and a seven-windowed cupola to be used as a control room for robotics. The mission featured three spacewalks.


1 Response to “A Once in a Lifetime Experience”

  1. 1 Braden
    April 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    You can’t expect us to believe Bud Light didn’t do their research….nice try though.

    Great note, look forward to catching more.

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