Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our First Rocket Launch!

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 BLAST OFF!

ok, so they said "Lift Off" instead of "Blast off," but we yelled BLAST OFF.

I'm very late in sharing this. In August, we all joined Frederic and the Juno Launch Team to see, live and in person and up close, our very first rocket launch.
Juno is a project Frédéric and his colleagues have been working on for awhile. The instrument will go to "unlock the secrets of Jupiter" http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/overview/index.html

To say it was exciting would be an understatement. We were at Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was hot and humid. As "Special Guests" of NASA (along with a few thousand other scientists and their families and friends), we had access to a special viewing area. We listened to the control room over loud speakers. As the lift off window approached, we kept hearing "5 more minutes," and at one point "recommend waiting as long as possible." As the technical problem was resolved, another problem arose - a person in a boat was in the water nearby! They got him away. The window was just over an hour. If it didn't go off Aug 5, we'd come back the next day, and the next, and the next. Fortunately, we didn't have to.

Finally they said "4 minute countdown ready." Then assorted systems checks followed each by "Go. Go. Go. Go....." until finally 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and we have LIFT OFF!"

If I was a kid seeing it for the first time, I'd be so hooked on space science I'd want to do nothing else. And so it is, Angelina has declared she will be an astronaut (even though this rocket carried no humans) .

And just to add to the cool factor, that night, we were invited to a special party at "The Beach house." This is in a restricted area and only accessible by special pass (they took us all on buses). An amazing stretch of beach. The house is where the astronauts would spend time just before launch. It happened to be very near the launch pad, so we could see the after effects of the launch (lots of charred stuff).

For more pictures: HERE

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