Life, art, and complaints of Cat Razim

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Florida Day 4 – Day Two/Launch Day

Needless to say- I couldn’t sleep.

It was more like a nap by the time my mind took a break from its marathon of thoughts and the butterflies in my stomach settled from hours of anticipation. Or was it indigestion from the really bad Chinese food I had the night before? No. Anticipation. I was like a kid who wasn’t allowed to leave the dinner table until I ate enough of my veggies. Three hours of sleep enough? good.

Up and in the car well before the sun, drinking really awful hotel coffee, I drove back to the Kennedy Space Center for what ended up being the last time. We had been waiting for this day for weeks. Others had been waiting  for months, years! This was Launch Day!

We had to arrive by 6am. Again, most of us arrived early. Few slept at all. I was excited, but it didn’t hit me until I saw the clock on and counting down. Weather permitting, this was happening.

Launch Day - the countdown clock

Launch Day - The Countdown Clock.

Again, another morning planned. Our large group was split into two. Mainly because the media building couldn’t handle all of us at once. I walked with the first group to witness the the work Doug Ellison had been doing for JPL. A project called “Eyes on the Solar System” – anyone with a computer can “see” what we’re doing in space. Our satellites and where they are, where they were, and where they will be. All 3D models. All beautiful. And for those who own a pair of red/cyan 3D glasses, the experience can really “pop out”. ugh. Sorry.

After that, the groups switched and I made it back to the Twent where Astronaut Doug Wheelock (@Astro_Wheels) spoke with us. Followed by Bill Nye The Science Guy! Part of me knew he was going to be part of this Tweet Up! I had seen his talk at my Alma Mater where he spoke passionately about Mars and Sundials! I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t there.

Then our special guest came up. Seriously… who could top Bill Nye? Well, Will.I.Am of course! Wait… what?!

Turns our Will.I.Am is a huge supporter of Space exploration and STEM/STEAM. He has launched his own project called SYSTEM (stimulating youth for science, technology, engineering and mathematics). His current single T.H.E (The Hardest Ever) kinda hints at how awesome space and technology is. He also said that the day Curiosity lands on Mars he will release a song in honor of it and STEM.

Doug Wheelock

Doug Wheelock!

It's Bill Nye the Science Guy

Bill Nye The Science Guy! Ahhh!!

Another astronaut made it, Leland Melvin (@Astro_Flow). He and Wheels totally air-chest bumped. It was awesome. We were also surprised with the head of NASA – Charles Bolden. Wow. All the crazy. All the awesome. And it wasn’t even 10am yet!!

Charles Bolden

The head guru of NASA - Charles Bolden

Will.I.Am and Wheels

Will.I.Am and Wheels!!

Once the group photo had been taken, we had some time to kill. So, what better way to kill time than to have a spontaneous Q&A with Wheels and Bill Nye!? Yeah. I can’t think of anything better. Questions asked. Answers given. Autographs and photos with our heroes later, we slowly made our way outside where the clock was getting very close to zero.

Lift off!

There she goes! WOOHOOO!!!

This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. How have I gone 25 years without this?! One second hidden beind the treeline, sitting on the Earth’s surface and then up, with what seems like the light of the sun lifting it up, Atlas V is forced up into the air, breaking through our layers of atmosphere and racing towards the stars. All the while it is quiet. Around the second this picture was taken was when you could finally hear it – A rumbling thunder. It’s hard to describe. Next time you’re in the shower, blow into the streams of water. It’s weird I know, but trust me. It sounds something like that, but a lot more awesome, and less wet. And to blow your mind just a bit more, the sound reached us before it reached the ears of other spectators.

Cheers. Tears. Yells. There was happiness and a rush like nothing else. There was hugging. There was talk of what just happened. I played with the controls on my camera to do a bit of stop-motion replay. We wanted to see it again! Once wasn’t enough!

We made it back inside the Twent to see the replays of the launch there. Other views that only cameras can share. Moments later we witnessed the separation of the rocket body. Curiosity was on her way!

It was around now that people started to leave. We were invited to stay and watch the Post-Launch news conference in the Twent so a few of us stayed for that. A few helped clean up. The crews came to start dismantling the Twent. It was over. Suddenly, it was over. I made it to the car, not wanting to but having to leave. I took my time. Drove slowly away. Windows down, I wanted to take it all in. 150+ of us and suddenly I was alone in the car with just my memories.

Not having eaten, I stopped for lunch. I was back with the public going about their day. Had a mediocre lunch and made it back to the hotel room. I called my fiance and shared everything. I had to share what I just experience. I needed to keep it alive.

While my computer processed images, I watched some tv, exhaustion settling in. Dozed a bit. I had a sofa in my hotel room and I napped on that versus in the bed three feet away. Soon, it was time to see a few of my new friends for the last time at the EndlessBBQ. Drove from Titusville to Cocoa Beach. My GPS getting me lost and had me walk the last quarter mile to the bar. Had a great talk with a few people. One amazing talk with someone that gave my self-esteem a jump in MP (Magic Points. Yeah. I went there. Speaking of game references. Pat – #YouGotAThing.)

They day I wish would never end, had to end. Dinner consumed with a great group of new friends. hugs exchanged. And a dark, lonely walk back down that quarter mile to my car I drove back to the hotel. The last night. And I slept so well…

EndlessBBQ Shells on the table.

EndlessBBQ Shells on the table.

posted by Cathy Razim at 2:53 am  

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