Amy 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.|