Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Last Space Shuttle Launch

by Maggie Sefton

I've mentioned before that daughter Serena is a NASA Astronaut Candidate, Class of 2009. She and her fellow team members, nine of them, will be finishing their two-year training period by the end of the summer and will officially become full-fledged NASA Astronauts. (See www.nasa.gov and insert Astronaut Class 2009 in the Search Box). Of course, they've already been totally involved and included from the get-go in all things NASA and most importantly, the International Space Station.

Their training has included studies and testing on all the space station systems and operations, extensive underwater training and maneuvers in pressurized suits which provide the closest thing to a weightless experience, intensive Russian language instruction and testing until fluency was attained, myriad hours of training on all sorts of scientific procedures and data, tons and tons of hours of flight training---first in prop planes then building to proficiency in jets and hours and hours of practice flying (hence the photos a couple of months ago). Not to mention all the travels to foreign countries to collaborate with NASA space station partners and/or other space-related businesss, such as Space-X, which is developing rockets to take cargo up to the International Space Station in the future. In fact, their latest rocket, the Falcon, sucessfully launched a couple of months ago. I think it's their third rocket launch. Plus numerous scientific surveys and missions, like Serena's two-month stint in the South Pole last December and January.

But they also have some perks.

Since the last space shuttle launch was scheduled for this year, I had asked Serena months and months ago if she could find tickets so I could attend the launch. Well, bless her heart. . .she found enough tickets for me and her three sisters and sister Christine's entire family. I'll be flying to Orlando to meet up with Serena and other family members, and we'll be sitting in the special seating area for NASA folk, so this will be pretty cool. I am SO excited. I'll be sure to get photos from someone who will be compelled to shoot pix while that beautiful bird is taking off. (These photos are stock photos of previous launches).

Me. . .I want to watch every second of the launch. Feel the roar of the engines. Watch that beautiful bird rise up, up, up in the sky until it disappears. Serena says the roar is so loud, you feel it throughout your whole body. Wow. I can't wait. :) I'll tell you guys all about it next week.