Tuesday, April 6, 2010

GATLIN STS Days 4 and 5!

The real STS! The launch was scheduled for 6:21 a.m. Doesn't sound too bad, until you consider exactly what times you actually have to leave to be in place by then. Here's the run down of our day/night/day.

7:00p.m. We had the kids in bed with strcit instructions not to come out and tell us they couldn't go to sleep.

8:30p.m. After some last minute packing and organizing Ted and I were in bed.

11:30p.m. The alarms wake us up. We had put the kids to bed in their clothes so that all we had to do was lift them out of bed and get them to the van.

12:15a.m. We were on the road heading south to Kennedy Space Center.

1:00a.m. We arrived at KSC and made our way into the Space Center. We wandered around the park, found some snacks and looked at some exhibits--especially the walk through a shuttle. Ted and the kids rode the Space Shuttle Experience which was a big hit for all of them, and really gave them a perspective of the upcoming event.

3:00a.m. We get in the lines to board the buses which would take us to the launch viewing sites.
This was chaos--there were TONS of people, and all with different ticket colors indicating different viewing sites. It was also very slow. While waiting for the buses, we saw a raccoon and a possum roaming around the Space Center grounds--that was a fun diversion. We finally boarded a bus and headed to the viewing site.

4:30a.m. We are at the viewing site, and we settle in for our next wait. Lucy found a way to get comfortable and slept on one of our chairs.

The big kids laid out on blankets and played DS's and Gameboys.

And we all took turns looking at the launch pad (which was over 6 miles away) through the binoculars.

See the white light in the picture? That's the space shuttle--far, far away.

While we waited we heard some of the radio communication between launch control, the shuttle, and others. At one point, during the 45 minute hold that happens 9 minutes before lift off (see if that makes any sense) we heard the dreaded "No Go." Apparently some radio somewhere wasn't working right. It was at this point that I did some serious praying. It had been a long night, and, although I was very much looking forward to seeing a launch, I just wasn't sure we would be able to come back another night and do this all over again. About ten minutes later the problem was cleared and they were back to "Go" There was a lot of cheering.

6:21a.m. An ON-TIME launch! Unbelievable on so many levels. The launch was great. It was very, very bright. We were told we'd see it before we heard it, and even though we both completely understand there is a difference between the speed of sound and light, we were still surprised at just how long it was before we heard any noise.

It was about 30-40 seconds before we heard the sound--go ahead, count for 30 seconds while you imagine watching something shooting up into the sky. So, Lucy slept through the lift off--but, 40 seconds in she was awakened by the noise. :) Can't say she was impressed.

We were. (thanks, NASA for a great picture)

6:45a.m. After this, we boarded our buses while we watched the sun rise. Eventually we made it back to Kennedy Space Center. Ted bought a hot dog (because, what else would you have for breakfast after being up all night long?) and we hung out a little longer before beginning the trek back to our condo. 10:00a.m. We're back at the condo. Ted and I were completely exhausted and ready for a long nap. The kids, on the other hand weren't. Therefor, before long we were all out on the beach. And later that afternoon we were able to join other friends and family of Jim Dutton at a reception. It was the TIME of our lives.

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