What do I and the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis have in common? We both get up at 4:30 AM to go somewhere. The slight difference is our mode of transportation. I woke up today at that time to catch my flight to Orlando. They will be waken at that time on Friday to head to the International Space Station on a rocket. I wonder what their inflight movie is.
I get on my flight with fingers crossed as the weather at the launch site seems to be getting less favorable over the coming days. The weather improves slightly over the 3 day launch window from Friday to Sunday.
The uncertainty is all part of this adventure. I'm glad to at least be getting out there as the anticipation is almost worse than just finally getting going even if the final goal of seeing the launch doesn't happen for me. I was never even sure if I'd even make to Kennedy Space Center at all. Over the past few weeks I've been diligently following several websites that track all the preparations for the shuttle launch. Lots of the information comes even from the engineers involved. As an Army Brat I thought I had seen my fare share of acronyms over the years, but I had no idea there were so many ways to capitalize and configure 26 letters!
While tracking all the many many steps needed to get a shuttle airborne, my appreciation and awe of such a complex and detailed undertaking only grew even more. These machines are one of the most complex creations ever assembled. I am just amazed these have been flying for 30 years. It has not been without cost of course. The cost has not just been in lives but in dollars which is part of the reason the program will come to a close. It's a shame that's the case. I hope the next generation of manned US flight does not delay much longer. There are many future kids that will be inspired as I was.
One other quick thought as I head out east is that while I have been greatly hoping to be there to see the launch, I know there are thousands whose jobs will come to an end as the program ends. It's not lost that my excitement is inversely playing out as uncertainty for many people. The whole area around the space coast will be a different place soon and I have a lot of sympathy for that change. I will have that on my mind as I soon photograph aspects of the launch. Click click click. Tick tock, tick tock.
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