Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I've watch launches of the space shuttle on television before, but Saturday's was pretty awesome -- for the first time I was able to see it on my parent's new Hi-Definition TV. Absolutely incredible. I know HD-TV still pales in comparison to seeing (and hearing and feeling) it live, but the picture and sound were so crisp and clear. (The only downside to the experience was having to endure my mom's saccharine commentary -- based on the configuration of the curved windows of the flight deck and the two overhead square windows -- that the shuttle was "smiling." Ugh.)

Astronauts fascinate me. We see them in their glory moments as they walk across the gantry, pose for publicity shots, beam back live TV shots from space, but there is so much preparation that goes into these missions that never makes the evening news. The crew aboard the Atlantis now trained for four years for this one mission -- they were slated to be the next mission after Columbia's ill-fated return, so they've been holding as NASA worked on the problems and launched two return-to-flight missions. Their dedication and hard work (and, lest we forget, the risks they take), and that of those who work endless hours with them behind the scenes, deserve our utmost respect.

Oh, and I'd really like an HD-TV of my own, if anyone cares to donate one.

Some great links for space program info:
NASA Space Shuttle home page - great for the latest news and information on current or upcoming missions.
Orbital Tracking - pulls up a java applet which shows you the current location of the International Space Station and any shuttle currently in space. Also contains a great link that will tell you when you can see the shuttle or ISS pass in the night sky.
KSC Video Feeds - Webcams located around Kennedy Space Center.

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