Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blinded by the light

Our Space Coast sky lit up at 11:59 p.m. last night with the launch of STS-128. This graphic is courtesy of NASA TV. For a moment, think about what it must be like to be an astronaut when this thing fires up, sitting atop a firecracker comprised of parts purchased from the lowest bidders (as some astronaut so wisely noted back in the early days). All astronauts are heros in my mind, but there were a couple of side stories that I particularly liked about members of the STS crew.

Astronaut Jose Hernandez grew up in Mexico and California, the son of migrant farm workers who put an emphasis on education. When he was nine years old, he and his family watched the moon landing on a small tv with rabbit ears (you young folks used to cable will have to ask your parents about those), and as the youngest child, he was assigned the task of holding on to the rabbit ears to improve reception during the moon walk. He jokes that he became an astronaut through osmosis. There are interviews with all the astronauts - I've included a link to his under Reference Links. Good stuff. He twitters, by the way.

There's no twitter link for astronaut Nicole Stott, but she blogs (see Reference Links). She worked for NASA at the Cape as an engineer before being accepted into the astronaut corps, so we consider her "local" talent. She'll live at the International Space Station for the next four months, so I'm sure she'll have some interesting blogs! (I was unable to add her link to my Google Reader - have sent an inquiry off to NASA.)

This is a 13-day mission. Discovery will dock with the International Space Station on Sunday. Amongst other things that will be left at the Station is a C.O.L.B.E.R.T. treadmill named in a contest after comedian Stephen Colbert. The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill is designed to keep the international crew healthy while in orbit and prepare them for return to Earth. It is also a testament to NASA's ability to turn almost anything into an acronym.

Bruce Springsteen wrote "Blinded by the Light" in the 1970's - I didn't understand it then, and I still don't, but the title is what came to mind when I sat down to write this, so ...

Reference Links: (main NASA site) (mission news) (Jose Hernandez interview) (Nicole Stott's blog) (Colbert story)

1 comment:

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Lovely take off.
I so admire astronauts...I would have loved to go up in a rocket to see the world from space. Only in my dreams.
Thanks for sharing this with us