Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kennedy Space Center at Night

We arrived at Kennedy Space Center around midnight for the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour for mission STS-127 shortly after 7am the next morning. We had tickets for the viewing area at the NASA Causeway and you have to arrive about 6 hours early. The place looks different at night.

The Rocket Garden glows with colored lights. There are red lights under the upright rockets. The Saturn 1B rocket that lays on its side is illuminated in blue.

Shortly after we arrived we heard an announcement that the launch would be delayed due to a leak in the hydrogen fueling system.

It was a bummer, but we were already in line for the "Dine with an Astronaut" event at 1am. We met astronaut Mike Mullane who flew on 3 space shuttle missions. They showed a video during the meal. Afterwards Mike Mullane spoke to the group. He said that on one of his missions the launch was scrubbed and that he knows how disappointing it is, and added that's it's better to be safe than sorry. Then he took questions from the audience. The cutest was a little girl who asked, "What kind of job did you have as an astronaut, besides scrubbing the shuttle?"

Afterwards we lined up to have pictures taken with Mike. Somehow we lucked out on timing and were the last group in line for the picture taking. We had a chance to talk to Mike one on one, and I got his autograph in a book I brought to the event. It's a book called "The Home Planet" that I found in a sale pile at a bookstore years ago. It is a large hardcover book with photographs of the Earth taken by astronauts. The narrative in the book is quotes and essays by astronauts. I didn't know which astronaut we would meet that night, but it just so happened that Mike Mullane is one the astronauts quoted in the book.

We exchanged phone numbers with new friends we'd met at the dinner, and left Kennedy Space Center around 3am. We'll meet up with our friends from Orlando at the next launch attempt.

No comments:

Post a Comment