Shuttle

 

STS 133

Florida mapAmy couldn’t make this trip, but my son David had a few days off, so in the last days of October of 2010, we drove to Space City USA to witness the launch of STS 133. This was the final scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, as well as the second-to-last shuttle launch of the US Space Shuttle Program, and we didn’t want to wait for the last launch and perhaps miss our opportunity.

David and I arrived in Orlando late on the Saturday before the scheduled launch so we’d have at least a day to scope out the area. Shortly after breakfast the next morning we were on our way to Titusville to cruise up and down the infamous Route 1. Close to three-quarters of a million people were expected to jam Titusville, Cape Canaveral and other nearby towns for this launch, so we wanted to make sure we had a few prime parking spaces picked out.

One thing we learned right away is that the early morning local news channels were really on top of what was going on over at the launch pad. By 6:00 a.m., NASA officials had decided whether or not the launch was a go, so we had time to make other plans when the launch was delayed.

Turned out that Monday wasn’t going to be a launch day for us, nor was Tuesday, nor Wednesday, and on Thursday the final nail in the coffin came.

We didn’t get to see the launch or feel the thunder in our feet. But we did have a great time doing other spacey stuff.

Here’s the shuttle week in a nutshell:

 

Monday 11/1/10 – Original launch scheduled. Delayed until Tuesday to repair helium and nitrogen leaks.
Tuesday 11/2/10 – Second launch attempt delayed until Wednesday to repair a backup system that controls the main engine.
Wednesday 11/3/10 – Third launch attempt delayed until Thursday because of weather concerns.
Thursday 11/4/10 – Launch scrubbed for nearly a month because of a “significant” hydrogen gas leak.
Thursday, 2/24/11 – Nearly four months later, I watched the actual launch of STS 133 on NASA Select in my living room. It was a beautiful thing, but I didn’t feel the ground shake.

 

Sunday - toured the Kennedy Space Center
Sunday – toured the Kennedy Space Center
David & Lynn in Space
David & Lynn in Space.
Sunday - toured the Kennedy Space Center
Sunday – toured the Kennedy Space Center.
Excuse me sir – Can I try one of these on?
Excuse me sir – Can I try one of these on?
Tuesday – launch delayed again? Let’s go to Disney World!
Tuesday – launch delayed again? Let’s go to Disney World!
Wednesday – seriously? Oh well. Back to the Kennedy Space Center
Wednesday – seriously? Oh well. Back to the Kennedy Space Center
Thursday – here’s the view from our parking spot off Highway 1. Discovery waits 12 miles east of us across the Indian River Lagoon on Launch Pad 39A.
Thursday – here’s the view from our parking spot off Highway 1. Discovery waits 12 miles east of us across the Indian River Lagoon on Launch Pad 39A.
We’re were joined by many, many other hopefuls.
We’re were joined by 40,000 other hopefuls.
Launch was canceled
One of our neighbors parked nearby came over to tell us that he’d heard on the radio that the launch had been canceled. A “significant” hydrogen gas leak scrubbed the launch for nearly a month. After an hour of stunned disappointment, we said goodbye to our parking spot and headed for home.
Stop at McDonald/s
No! we’re not back at the Astronaut Hall of Fame. This is the McDonald’s just down the street on Route 1.
Later that week, we shared our adventure with a class of Kindergarteners in Albany, NY.
Later that week, we shared our adventure with a class of Kindergartners in Albany, NY.

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