Wednesday, July 27, 2005

God Speed, Discovery

I watched her for hours before she leapt off Launch Pad 39. She was beautiful. A delight to behold. The acronyms filling the airwaves, com checks with Houston, getting all tucked in for the ride of their lives. I was with them, as if I, too, had been strapped into my parachute and cinched-up in my chair. Holding my breath while I went through my checklist.

3 - 2 - 1 … LIFTOFF.

The next thing I remember was hearing, "Discovery, you are go at throttle up." Chills ran up and down my spine because I remember watching Challenger explode shortly after those words were spoken, so many years ago. I was paralyzed for a few moments, and watching intently to see if there would be a repeat of that disaster. I relaxed 10 minutes later when Discovery was travelling at 17,800 mph, and was over the United Kingdom. It does my head to realize that in less time than it takes me to get halfway home from work, they were over the United Kingdom. Man! 3/5ths of a mile in 1/10th of a second. Oh man, this takes me back, yet it propels me, and all of us, forward.

I remember it all from day one. From that cold night in Denver, when I was seven years old, and watched Sputnik blink overhead. From Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shephard, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter... yes, I can remember the Mercury Seven, including Deke Slayton. I remember Gemini and Apollo. I remember it all, and will never forget the dangers they faced - some paying the ultimate price for our innate desire and drive for exploration of the unknowns of space.

What a ride. Now get home safely for your heros welcome; we are watching and waiting and praying for your safe return.