The space shuttle is slotted for launch at 3:49 pm est tomorrow, July 1st. However, weather could be a factor tomorrow afternoon with the threat of thunderstorms in the area. At any rate, STS-121 will be launching soon, and with a little luck, it will be tomorrow.
The shuttle program is winding down and could be a thing of the past at any time. Though NASA has plans for future launches through 2010, congress could pull the funding plug without notice.
I had the rare pleasure, in 1972, of watching Apollo 17 blast-off to the moon as I stood on the shore of the Indian River. Words can not describe the shear power of these machines, nor can you describe the pride that is felt knowing this is your nation's greatest scientific accomplishment.
After Apollo 17, there were several more moon missions planned, but the program was folded and that was that. The space shuttle could, and probably will, end the same way. The end of an era could very well be at our doorstep, so I encourage you and your children to watch this mission from beginning to end.
Being born in 1956 gave me the opportunity to follow the space program from its infancy. The 60s were full of excitement as NASA accomplished feats that were topics only found in science fiction books.
In 1976, while returning from Death Valley by military convoy, our company stopped at Edwards Air Force Base late one night for some shut-eye. We slept inside a closed hanger on the floor. In the morning, when the hanger door was opened, we were bursting with pride, because just across the tarmac sat a giant 747 with our first shuttle perched on its back. We didn't care about chow time--we wanted to go over and be next to her. But that wasn't happening. Something about security. Instead we settled for taking photos until our film ran out. A proud day.
I will be following STS-121 from launch to landing, but I will be doing something I haven't done with past missions. Since the shuttle usually re-enters over the SF Bay area, I will be going to the mountains, Placerville at least, maybe Tahoe, to watch as it streaks across the night sky on re-entry. And since I have some friends on Florida's space coast, I hope to be in contact via cell phone to let them know their bird is lookin' good and on its way home to Florida. Sounds like a plan to me. I just hope they take my call.
For the latest on STS-121, go to www.nasa.gov/home/
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A big "You're Welcome" goes out to PFC Nathaniel on the Cape. The card you sent was just perfect. I want you to know how proud I am of you and your grandmother. Keep up the good work, and always keep our troops close to your heart. Ok, Private, you're dismissed!!