Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Witnessed Orion's First Flight

It was beautiful and awe-inspiring, and I hope to see more space flights soon. Our future is up there.

Whether or not you believe all the #JourneyToMars hype, no matter how critical you might be of the Space Launch System (SLS)—if you don't feel something when you watch a rocket launch, please consult a medical professional, you freaking Grinch.

I cried when Orion lifted off—even more than I did when DeeAnn and I watched the STS-124 launch in May of 2008. Last Friday, when that Delta IV Heavy hit its second launch window, I was standing less than three miles from the pad. I felt the heat from the engines. For a moment, I honestly couldn't decide whether I should just watch the blurry scene through my tears, or blink and risk missing any of it.

Others in my NASA Social group got brilliant recordings of the EFT-1 launch—I didn't even try. Check out our photo pool on Flickr, some of which I daresay rival NASA's official images:

Don't even get me started on how great our amateur videographers are:

And for a real treat, listen to Danny Sussman's audio recording with headphones on:

But what I'm really looking forward to is Alison Wilgus' forthcoming comic about the event. Alison is a fantastic writer and artist, and she was one of my Clarion West classmates this summer. It was a complete coincidence that we both got into this NASA Social—we live on opposite coasts, and I didn't even know she had applied until we were tweeting at each other about the movie Interstellar and other space-related topics. Second-best surprise ever!

Alison drew a wonderful comic about her previous NASA Social rocket launch experience, the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K (TDRS-K) launch in January of 2013. Incidentally, this is possibly my favorite single panel from that comic, because I'm a weirdo:

You can read the entire comic on Alison's web site. And if you enjoy it, sign up for Alison's newsletter to get updates on her future projects!

I don't have much more to say about my NASA Social week. It was amazing, informative, and incredibly inspirational. I brought back some souvenirs, but nothing compares to the indelible memory of seeing that rocket rise from the ground and disappear into the clouds.

One. More. Time:

If you have a couple of hours to spare, I recommend watching our Orion pre-launch briefing, which was video-conferenced between several NASA facilities around the country and included a lot of great information. My fellow NASA Social attendees asked some excellent questions about the future of America's space program.

Finally, I threw together a slide show of my own photos from last week. They're neither spectacular nor comprehensive, but should give you an idea of what the trip was like:

I was born after the Apollo missions ended. No people have walked on the Moon in my lifetime. I hope I live long enough to see human beings land on Mars. I really do.


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