John Glenn’s Shuttle Launch From 1998 (video)

It’s so loud the sound waves distort the view toward the pad during their fifteen second journey to the visitors area.

There was a shuttle launch this afternoon. We’ve all become fearful since the two disasters that struck NASA’s shuttle program. On Facebook and Twitter I posted:

I am always uneasy before the shuttle launches

I have been to two shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral. It’s impossible to truly understand the scale of what’s going on unless you’re there. From the banks of the Banana River in front of the giant digital clock you see and feel the shuttle’s blastoff. It’s so loud the sound waves distort the view toward the pad during their fifteen second journey to the visitors area.

Someone on Facebook mentioned the John Glenn launch. As it turns out I stumbled upon a CD I’d burned with that day’s coverage including my live shot from the Cape.

The package was shot and edited by George DeYounge. We ran late and scrambled to get the video to the satellite uplink. I was huffing and puffing and greatly out-of-breath, but we made it!

It was an exciting day… a historic day. I hope I conveyed that.

The Shuttle Flies Tomorrow

The Space Shuttle is scheduled to takeoff tomorrow, headed toward the International Space Station. Right now, the most likely reason for it not to fly would be weather.

At first glance, Florida doesn’t seem like the perfect place for a spaceport. There are thunderstorms much of the year. Shuttles and thunderstorms don’t play well together.

There are also hurricanes and tropical storms. It is oppressively humid, making it difficult to work outside in the summer.

It’s not a siting accident. There are reasons to launch from the Cape. Being closer to the equator is the prime consideration. If you’re near 0&#176, the Earth’s spin is a great help getting you into orbit. Launching from Cape Canaveral adds 915 mph of speed versus launching from the North Pole! That extra speed means less fuel which means more ability to carry a payload.

Since shuttles launch to the east (counter to the Earth’s rotation), Florida also means you launch over water, not land. I don’t have to explain that advantage, do I?

I wish they weren’t launching tomorrow. In fact, I wish they weren’t launching at all.

When you see coverage over this weekend, listen carefully. Listen beyond the talk of safety and explosions. See if you hear anything about what valuable will be going on that makes this trip worthwhile, or makes the International Space Station worthwhile. My guess is, you won’t.

I could take the risk if there was also reward. Right now, it’s closer to a governmentally sanctioned extreme sport.

O is for Ophelia

As I type, we have Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Nate in the Atlantic. They are well to the east and not a threat to land. Tropical Depression 16 is a different story.

As was the case with Katrina, this storm has formed over the Bahamas and is moving toward Florida. Unlike Katrina, this one is expected to move northwest, toward Cape Canaveral and what is referred to as “The Treasure Coast.”

The official projections are for 60 knot winds at landfall, which translate to just under hurricane strength. As soon it the depression hits 39 mph (it’s at 30 mph) it will become Tropical Storm Ophelia.

When Katrina hit South Florida people wrote it off as a minimal hurricane. My guess is a strong tropical storm will get a lot more attention based on video fresh in people’s minds.