Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Place

Maybe it is just a coincidence that the two shuttle launches I attended actually launched on time. Two years ago today I experienced what I consider to be the most exhilarating, intense, emotional moment of my entire life. I witnessed STS-123 launch into the night sky from only 3 miles away.



Even though I have dedicated my life to space, I never thought I would have that opportunity. I would compare the experience to something my dad always talks about: The Indianapolis Speedway. To him (a huge Indy racing fan his whole life) just being in the presence of this place, a place where history was made, terrible accidents happened, victories were achieved….just knowing you are standing in the presence of those memories is such a powerful experience. And I’m sure others have those “places” they have been or the “places” they would one day like to go. I learned on this day two years ago, that my “place” was right there at Kennedy Space Center. I was standing where millions of pounds of propellant carried brave men and women into space, where some of the most complex machines ever designed were assembled, and where men and women sacrificed everything to ensure that now, at that moment I was experiencing my “place.”


At that moment, shortly after the crowd I was amongst sang the national anthem, and the clock reached 00:00:00…something happened. There were no racial or cultural boundaries, no one said a word, and at that moment I was so grateful to be an American and to have the chance to see such a marvel. It was absolutely overwhelming. I cannot deny the tears streaming down my face, as I realized at more of an emotional level rather than technical, that WE did this. All of us together as a country, as engineers, as technicians, as controllers, as astronauts…WE did it.


And now WE are in danger of losing that place, those feelings, those emotions, that captivated me as a young girl, led me to become an aerospace engineer, and brought me to my special place. Please continue to support NASA and manned spaceflight.