It was very surreal to witness the RSS rollback after dark in the sweltering heat and swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitos. It was also very cool to realize that after this singular moment, it would be impossible to ever view a launch in the same way ever again.
I remember attending many meetings, participating in tons of discussions about how to get people excited about the space program. Often times, these kinds of questions can leave you befuddled about how to get NASA’s message out. The simple fact is that the best way to get people excited about NASA is to let them see it up close. You can’t be indifferent to the achievement that is the NASA Space Shuttle when you are staring right at it.
So, there we are, bug bitten, sweaty, dirty, grumpy, etc. wondering if the guys that cut in the line were going to get a better position to take pictures. Suddenly, everything comes to a stop. Everything except the RSS itself, which is quietly moving at 20 feet per minute. This slow but complex move finally reveals the Endeavour in all her glory. Instantly, you’re a kid again. I can taste the Tang I used to drink thinking about becoming an astronaut. I remember creating astronaut costumes out of pajamas. I remember building a structure out of chairs and blankets that simulated early versions of the Shuttle. Like a quick rack focus, everything unimportant drops out of focus and all that is clear is brilliant engineering.
I don’t know much, but I know that anyone who has any doubts about what NASA is doing, simply hasn’t been to a space shuttle launch.