The space shuttle launches tomorrow at 5:11 pm CST!
February 6, 2001 3:47 PM   Subscribe

The space shuttle launches tomorrow at 5:11 pm CST! I know these launches seem somewhat routine, but it's still the most dangerous job in the world, and each launch still fascinates me. You can watch the launch from the Houston Chronicle's live feed.
posted by Sal Amander (10 comments total)
I'll be watching. I am pretty sure it will be my first live webcast, how exciting.
posted by thirteen at 3:58 PM on February 6, 2001

Be sure to try getting into the feed about 1-1/2 hour before the launch. It gets busy. If you get a message that the feed is too busy, cancel and try again. It may take several tries right in a row.
posted by Sal Amander at 4:07 PM on February 6, 2001

I'm in the same boat Sal, the launches fascinate me too. I couldn't imagine sitting on that much rocket fuel, all the forces then watching good ol' Earth "in the rear view mirror." I can't wait to witness one first hand. Anyone ever catch a launch first hand? Any stories to tell?
posted by brent at 4:07 PM on February 6, 2001

When we were in Florida a few years ago, we did all the usual stuff like going to the space center, etc. They were preparing for the launch of.. wait... let me get the t-shirt... Columbia STS-83 (yes, they sell t-shirts with the mission logo and the names of the crew members... i think that's kind of cool). We realized that we were going to miss it since we'd be flying home the day it launched.

Skip ahead to the day we were going home. We were in the airport and suddenly everyone was gathering at the windows. Lo and behold, the shuttle was launching and we had one of the best views. It was one of the coolest things ever to watch.
posted by stefnet at 5:47 PM on February 6, 2001

I actually attending two launches in the 80's, a Challenger lift-off in 1985 (STS 51-A) and the first lift-off, of Discovery (STS-26), after the Challenger explosion. A family friend was on both missions, and was actually the commander (Rick Hauck) of the Discovery. Far and away, it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life.

The first time we sat in the astronaut VIP seats, about 3 miles from the pad. After Challenger they moved all the viewing stands back to about 7 miles. Still, an astronaut's family and guests sit closer than anyone else, so the view is unobstructed, and there's a loud speaker right next to the stands. The ground shakes and the flame when the engines fire up is as bright as the sun, you can't even look at it.

My adrenaline rushed as they said, T-3! 2! 1! And after lift-off, as the count went up, and edged towards 73 seconds (the time when Challenger exploded), everyone went totally silent. All you could hear was the mic, saying "t plus 68 seconds, t plus 69 seconds, t plus seventy seconds.) As soon as Discovery went to full throttle up at t + 73, and the boosters fell off, everyone burst into tears and cheers. (I'm not kidding, it was really that emotional.) There was this little trail of white and off it went into the heavens.

It still is the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life.
posted by megnut at 7:08 PM on February 6, 2001

Thanks Meg, what a cool story. Did you keep your ticket stubs? Because I have heard of this cool thing called "The Ticket Stub Project" that your story would be perfect for...
posted by ericost at 7:39 PM on February 6, 2001

Wow, Meg, I'm jealous. I keep saying I'm going to fly down for a launch and things keep getting in the way (like getting unemployed ...).

I remember the Return to Flight, too, just from cable news. There was also the flight back home from Miami that was scheduled to be passing by the Cape as the orbiter went up. The pilot notified us and then, shortly before the designated time, reported a delay. Damn. I've heard those are spectacular to see, especially as the shuttle breaks through the clouds.

The important thing about this mission is that the shuttle carries the US Lab Destiny for the ISS. Not just a lab, it's also the command and control center for the US segments. (As such, it's one of the last all-but-irreplaceable modules.) Spaceref actually has more informative information than NASA these days for the space junkie; here's the ISS Assembly Flight 5A mission profile.
posted by dhartung at 8:03 PM on February 6, 2001

I live in St. Augustine, Florida, and hundreds of people go to the beach to see each launch even though we're more than an hour's drive away from the cape. The best launches to see are often at night, when the shuttle rockets illuminate the surrounding clouds.
posted by rcade at 9:17 AM on February 7, 2001

Don't forget, this launch will be taking a different course then usual and if your in New England (not sure about other areas) you can view it in the southern sky between 6:18pm to 6:20pm.
posted by thirdball at 9:27 AM on February 7, 2001

I live in Brevard County FL (otherwise known as the Space Coast) and get to see all the lauches from somewhere. I went to the 2nd launch in 1981(?) as sat with the press. But the majority of launches I have seen from my backyard. I do have to say though, my favorite launch was sometime in 1992/93 and I drove over to Port Canaveral and stood out on the beach at 3:00am. I was so close the night sky lit up so bright it looked like 3:00 PM! I had my radio with me and I was amazed that when the announcer said that the shuttle was over Virginia I could still see it. That just blows my mind to consider the power this thing has!

I am fortunate to live a short drive from Kennedy Space Center and my son and I used to visit quite a bit (before they started charging theme park prices to get in). If you ever get the chance..go. Its a truely humbling experience to see the sheer size and strength of the rockets that mere humans have built.
posted by Princess Buttercup at 10:55 AM on February 7, 2001

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