I was not born a space junkie. It was a gift from my father, when I was about five years old and my father woke me up and made me watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. It was history, and gosh darn, Dad wouldn\’t let me miss it, inspite of the late hour and my mother\’s non-interest. We watched every space flight that was broadcast after that.
But the biggest gift to space junkies ever, is the internet. NASA TV live over the internet is much better than any ten minute coverage the networks can provide. Something about the ordinaryness of some fellow in the firing room getting up and walking to the coffee pot in the back of the room. It\’s the third time it\’s on this week and still exciting.
The two best things though, are the crew radio checks and the final \”polling\”.
Crew radio checks occur after the crew is secured in the shuttle. The crew then has to check communications with the firing room, launch command and mission control in Houston. Then they are instructed to not touch the knobs except to adjust the volume for their own comfort. The thing is, the voices are so full of anticipation and excitment. It\’s the first flight for Lisa Nowak and Stephanie Wilson and they\’re voices aren\’t seasoned scientists, but little girls at Christmas. Same with the boys. They are even more pumped, especially those who\’ve done it before. Apparently, there\’s nothing \”Been there, done that\” about space travel.
The final polling is when the launch director goes down the list and asks each area for go-no go. Even the voices of these engineers and specialists drip with excitement. These folks love what they do. I\’m sure there are politics and personality problems, affairs, and all the other crap that comes with government work, but today, they are going to space. Everything else is so much crap.
On our trip to Flordia in 1976, my family and I were subjected the full propaganda machine about the space shuttle. We bought it and I still have a hard time believing there are folks out there that are not exciting about space travel and the space station. Our Florida trip in 2004, we went to the Cape again, this time the propaganda machine was focused on Mars. Know what? I\’m with them. Let\’s go.
I don\’t think there\’s anything better than launching Discovery on the 4th of July. Except maybe launching the Mars trip on another 4th.