Stew Miller Musings and Rants
I Complain (Oh, and Doodle), You Read and/or Comment, Everyone is Happy… IT’S SO SIMPLE!

“Endeavor, You Are Go For Launch.”

It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve seen this very occurrence half-a-dozen times in my life, the majesty and the absolute awe of its act still manages to give me the full-body chills each and every time. My kids are new to it, however, and I must admit I did a pretty good job psyching them up for the amazing appearance they were about to witness.

“Boys,” I said, knowing full well that once I began a diatribe with that opening statement, they were generally bound to listen, “How would you like to see a space shuttle go up into space?” They looked at me a little cock-eyed, especially Simon since I was really unsure as to how much he’d care. Charlie, on the other hand, was sold. “What does it do, Dad?” A question that he is now infamous for, “What’s a SPACE SHUTTLE?”

So I quickly explained that seven astronauts (he knew them as those guys with helmets with hoses on them) climb into a huge space ship and get launched into space. “What does lunch mean?” Asked Charlie in all seriousness followed by Simon suggesting that for lunch they had eaten sandwiches. “No,” I chuckled (lunch, priceless), “Launch. It’s when the rockets that the shuttle is attached to shoot fire out of them and push the ship into space to meet with the International Space Station.” He smiled and agreed that it sounded really cool and asked when it was going to happen. Wait, he didn’t once inquire as to what the I.S.S. was, he just accepted it as the place where the ship was going and I suppose he was fine with that. Anyway, I clicked on the link to NASA’s web site and it looked like the launch was going ahead as scheduled and was to take place in about ten minutes. He settled in and listened as the control tower narrated every step of the way.

The technician followed each piece of the pre-launch tower as one after the other they slowly removed themselves from the path of the shuttle. Charlie inquired as to what each little moving bit was and I basically had to repeat what the man had said. He was pretty riveted though. As for Simon, well he like the fact that it was a big machine and asked how ‘they’ got the Endeavor to the place to where it would lift off from. I told him it only had to go a few miles from the hangar but that it took almost a full day to do so since it was so big. He loved that and started to animate his own story with is big trucks. The time, meanwhile, slowly ticked away and the boys had begun their own count-down sequence, though the real thing was moments off. I guess they were practicing.

And then, at T-Minus 10 seconds, we all began to count (and me to silently pray especially after witnessing live the total destruction of two separate shuttles) right along with the announcer. Charlie was grinning enthusiastically and Simon was just as thrilled, it seemed, as his brother. 9-8-7 (The jets ignited and Charlie was saying wow under his baited breath) 6-5-4 (Simon looked to ask a question but I shushed him and told him to wait a second) 3-2-ONE… LIFT OFF! And the launch was perfect in every way.

We watched as, eventually, the rockets fell away up and over the shuttle and its fuel tank. Charlie asked if it was blowing up (eek!) and I told him no, it was just that the shuttle no longer needed those boosters. I had to explain to him just why the ship had turned upside down and then back to right as it left earth… all about trajectory, orbit, gravity… it was all very deep and philosophical, but he seemed satisfied and asked how I knew stuff. I love that question, it’s so loaded. Anyway, the launch went off without incident and the boys were just as excited as I was this time, and, each and every other time as well. We live in a pretty cool time and, I’d be willing to bet, my kids might someday be sharing with theirs as a new shuttle lands on other planets for the first time. Man, I sure wish I could be around to share that. Oh well. it’s been pretty amazing so far.

S tew


One Response to ““Endeavor, You Are Go For Launch.””

  1. I have a different view. I hope I will be able to visit other planets like taking a cab before I die. 🙂

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