Our friend Ann Zscheile has chastised us, and rightfully so, for failing to note a big Space Coast event last week - the spectacular night launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor from Launch Pad 39A at 7:55 p.m. Friday. According to NASA, the mission of STS-126 is to outfit the International Space Station for a larger crew and improve the function of a solar array rotary joint. (For all you acronym lovers out there, "STS" stands for Space Transportation System, the original name for the Space Shuttle Program.) The NASA site always has some beautiful images, and we particularly liked this one. (Image credit: NASA/Sandra Joseph-Kevin O'Connel)
If you've seen the Beautiful Beach segment of our Florida Beach Basics - The Space Coast DVD, you may remember that we speak of Mother Nature, NASA, and various Government agencies working together to provide us with the interesting juxtaposition of a wildlife refuge adjacent to the technology-driven Kennedy Space Center. Ann really captured this concept in her email to me: "We stood out on the beach waiting for the launch, enjoying the beautiful moonrise, reflections of the moon on the water, and the waves gently lapping at the beach. When the shuttle fired up, it lit up the sky for a few moments, and then we watched it arch across the night sky with the moon nearby. Then, as the rockets separated, it seemed to pause for a moment. We knew the shuttle had separated and was on its way. The booster rockets stayed behind and looked like a new bright star in the sky, gently and slowly dropping down toward the ocean. You couldn't help but think of the contrast of nature and modern technology - the ocean, sky and earth as they have been throughout the ages, a background for the wonders of man and our fascination with space. We were standing near a couple from Germany and another couple from France - they were thrilled by what they saw, and it seemed to connect us all as fellow inhabitants of this earth home. We really do live in a very special place here in Brevard County. "
Thanks to Ann for sharing her perspective of this final launch of 2008. As I write this, all is going well at the Space Station, and we pray for a safe return of the seven astronauts on November 29.