Saturday, November 22, 2008

Houston, we have an addiction

For several years our kids have had a healthy fascination with space. When Riley was a kindergartener she was really interested, and we spent a lot of time reading space related books from the library. We bought a space puzzle and a space bingo game. We even planned a star watching night just for her during a vacation to the mountains--unfortunately, our plan was a little thwarted by a full moon that night, and we didn't see the numbers of stars like we had promised her.

Fast foward a few years. Ted is channel surfing one morning when he stumbles on the NASA channel showing video of astronauts in their orange suits. We watch it for a little and call in the kids...Cory is now into the space thing, and has told me he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up--here he and Lucy are in a space ship he made...Lucy removed his styrofoam controllers, so you might say they're Lost in Space:--so I knew he'd love it. During the broadcast, I notice that it is training for an upcoming launch, and lucky for us, it's in just a few short days. A little research at the NASA website reveals that the launch will be at a perfect time for the kids to be able to watch.

We mark the calendar and set the DVR just in case we miss it, but they got to watch the shuttle launch live on the NASA channel Nov. 14. Everyone got a big kick out of it, and later that night we watched it again on the DVR. After the kids were in bed, Ted and I surfed back to NASA and watched a little of the communication between the shuttle and Houston. Somewhere along the line Ted mentions that the voice of the guy in Houston sounds just like a good friend of his (a guy he'd heard a lot through the radio while he flew). We pay closer attention and soon realize that, indeed, it is one of our friends from our time in Vegas. Cool.

Now I am hooked on the NASA channel. They're currently showing live video feed of the mission in space, and I keep it on a lot of the day. I'm not sure why I like it so much--the days when they're doing the spacewalks are the best because you get a lot of good video of space and Earth--not just inside the International Space Station. My addiction is so bad, in fact, that I can tell some of the astronauts apart by their voices.

Another fun piece is the opportunity we've had to watch the space station fly by our house. NASA's website has a link to see when the shuttle and space station will be in your sky, and it's currently flying over us when it's dark outside, yet early enough in the evening to take the kids out. We had a lot of our friends out with us last night looking for it, and got to see it move across the sky. Way cool. In a few days we'll be able to see both the space station and the shuttle separately, with the shuttle kind of chasing the space station in orbit. That will be fun.
The space shuttle will return to Earth in a few days. What will I do then?

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