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Remembering the Shuttle . . .

Not much really happened today, so I thought I’d repost our Space Shuttle landing experience.




Originally posted on May 11, 2009

Well, it’s official.

I now have the complete set.

I got my first one on March 30, 1982 and it took me over 27 years to get the second one. But I finally did it.

I now have been at both a Space Shuttle launch and a Space Shuttle landing.

I worked on the Shuttle program at Johnson Space Center for over ten years from 1978 thru 1988, but never was actually at a launch at the Cape.

In March 1982 I was part of the landing crew at the backup landing site, Northrop Strip, White Sands, New Mexico when the 3rd Shuttle mission, STS-3 landed there, the only time a Shuttle has landed somewhere other than Florida or California.

STS-3_landing

The Shuttle landed at White Sands because the landing strip at Edwards Air Force Base in California was covered with water due to recent heavy rains, and the landing strip at Cape Kennedy in Florida was not yet operational.

Coincidentally, before the landing, a movie called “Wrong is Right” was being filmed at White Sands. The White Sands area was standing in for sands of Saudi Arabia. And the movie crew was staying at the same Holiday Inn in Alamogordo, NM that we were.

It was a real kick to go down to the hotel bar every night after work and sit around drinking with Sean Connery, Katherine Ross, Robert Conrad, John Saxon, and Leslie Nielsen. And later I got to fix Katherine Ross’ hair dryer since she was staying in the hotel room next to mine. But that’s another story.

And now I have a Shuttle launch under my belt.

We’re presently parked in Homestead, FL, about 30 miles south of Miami. Friday we’ll be heading down for a few days in the Florida Keys. So we were glad that we were still close enough to try and see a launch.

We left our park in Homestead a little after 6am this morning and got to Titusville about 11:30am, a trip of about 250 miles. We also took some extra clothes with us in case the launch was delayed over the 3 day launch window and we had to stay at a motel. But we lucked out.

The launch went off as scheduled at 2:01:56pm and we had a great spot to view it from. And one that had a lot memories for Jan and I.

Jan and met in Titusville almost 42 (now over 50) years ago where she lived, and I was working for the summer. We would go out to this fishing pier outside downtown Titusville and make out. We spent a lot of time there.

Make Out Pier

Unfortunately there is not a lot of the old pier left, but Jan and I are still going strong, and it made a great viewing area for the launch.

And we had a lot of company!

Launch Crowd 1

Launch Crowd 1

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Here are some pics of the launch. The first one is from NASA. The rest are mine.

Shuttle Launch

Shuttle Launch 2

Shuttle Launch 3

Into the Clouds

Shuttle Launch 3

Shuttle Launch 5

Shuttle Launch 6

Shuttle Launch 7

And about 30 seconds after the launch, the shock wave and the roar from the engines washed over us. It was fantastic.

Well, that was it. A real thrill for Jan and I, I can tell you.




Thought for the Day:
  

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” – Eric Hoffer

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