What a Discovery!


STS120Morning

It didn’t seem like a great birthday present at the time, but since Carol shares her birth date with Uncle Sam, I figured a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in hopes of catching the launch of the space shuttle Discovery was apropos. It turned out much better than expected.

We took advantage of an opportunity to witness the launch up close. By camping out on the grounds of Jetty Park beyond the launch pad, we were assured of a bird’s eye view. The magnificent Space Ship was in full splendor.

Jetty ParkSTS120LIGHT2

We also took advantage of our proximity to Cape Kennedy by visiting the Space Center before and after the launch. As we got as close as permitted to the vessel, we were awestruck, as though we stood at the foot of the Great Pyramid at Giza.


STS120GODISCOVERYWIDESTS120PadNite

As night fell, the images became even more majestic. The one on the right sticks out the most in my mind.

STS120DuskSTS120Discovery

At sunrise, we were able to get pretty close considering, and one could feel the crowd anticipation. It had not been long since the Columbia disaster. In addition, beautiful Christa McAuliffe, a teacher living not far from us in New Hampshire, had given her life for her country years earlier on the Challenger, which I watched with other teachers on a large movie screen. Positive as I am, those thoughts entered my mind, and lingered longer than I usually allow.

STS120FlaginFront

Watching the astronauts enthusiastically heading for the launch pad is an exhilarating experience that is hard to top.

STS120Walkout

And what can I say that the photo does not say better.

STS120-1c
 
Copyright© 2006 JJ Botta

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Comments

  1. I know, I think about that horrible disaster all the time as well, especially when viewing photos as these....they were so delighted and it was such a tragic ending....it was one of those moments that open my eyes to that one question, why?

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    Replies
    1. Karen: For that I have no answer. I take solace in the belief that Nature has an orderly purpose. We can't buck it or figure it out. We can only go with it and accept it.

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  2. For that I have no answer. I take solace in the belief that Nature has an orderly purpose. We can't buck it or figure it out. We can only go with it and accept it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I try not to dwell on that bad experience at each launch. Instead, focus on what is about to be and not what was. Look at the expectation on those faces! The bounce in those steps. That is hard to beat. Well, the blast off beats it. But, I am big on prelude and expectation. There is just something about the getting there...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. That is the only way. It is a good rule for everything we do in life.

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  4. Fantastic photos JJ! Let's look at the impressive achievement these launches have been for Man. We can never forget the disasters, they also belong to our memory, but the giant steps forward in science that the USA give continuously are the most remarkable achievement.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. It was a testament to the success of mankind, to be shared by all.

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  5. These are great photos. Fantastic is right JJ. But they make me sad. Shutting down the US space program is a bad idea. I don't like thumbing a ride.

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    Replies
    1. Shutting down the program bespeaks the tragedy of the declining American Dream.

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  6. Wow, thank you for sharing these wonderful photos with us, JJ. We'll go to see the shuttle at its new digs sometime in the future. It will be cool to see it up close.

    I remember that tragic event, too. So sad.

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    Replies
    1. Lynn: I would like to see it up close at its new location as well. I remember seeing the Mercury space capsule at the Smithsonian as a kid and I was quite impressed.

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  7. What a great opportunity you had. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience! It is hard to imagine being that close and actually seeing what you saw.
    I hope that one day soon the USA can recommit to investing again in such a worthwhile and wonderful program. There are most certainly resources available especially when we see all the programs we put tons of money into that are a complete waste of time and energy.

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  8. I think this is an amazingly creative birthday gift.

    Sometimes, on the years I'm feeling clever, I put together 'birthday experiences' for my kids or Grandkids.

    I've done some diverse things.

    The kids always talk about those times...rather than things I've given them.

    The top favorite, ever, has been the year I bought a bunch of chipped old dishes from thrift shops. I put a tarp on the ground, used an old tablecloth and set an elegant table outside in the yard. My son-in-law got to actually try pulling the tablecloth out from under the dishes...something he'd told me he had always wanted to try.

    I think we played with those dishes until the last one broke.

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