A few months ago a reader informed me that the Space Shuttle would be launching for the last time in September. If I was ever going to accomplish my goal of witnessing a Space Shuttle launch, I’d better be doing it soon. I checked my schedule to see if I could make something work but was disappointed to find that I would be in class during each upcoming launch date. It wasn’t going to work out and I put it out of my mind.
Then a couple of days ago I received an email from Niel:
I noticed that you want to see a Space Shuttle launch. I wondered if you knew that the Space Shuttle fleet is in the process of retiring and there will be no more launches after September. I saw the launch of Endeavour in February, and I think it’s worth the effort to see it.
My reply was little more than an expression of my disappointment with the retirement of the Shuttle Program and my disgust in our government for closing down a program that inspires our youth to pursue ambitious goals in mathematics and science. I closed the email with this statement:
I have checked out the launch schedule in the past for the upcoming year and at the time I wasn’t sure that it would fit into my schedule but being the rebel that I can sometimes be, I might have to find a way to make it happen!
After sending my response to Niel, I checked out the launch schedule again and found that, indeed, I had scheduling conflicts with school. Frustrated, and a little angry at a perceived lack of control in my life, I fired off an email to my Chemistry professor politely informing him that I would be missing class so I could travel to Florida to watch the launch of Endeavour.
Then I booked my flight to Orlando.
I had no idea what the repercussions of skipping class would be or whether there would be a quiz or exam that day. I didn’t care. Sometimes a person just needs to follow their ambitions without fear of consequence. The next morning when I checked my email I had a response from my professor:
I understand your interest in the Space Shuttle. I will help you out with this as much as possible.
At this moment, all I have is a plane ticket to Orlando and a hotel room. I don’t have a ticket to the launch area and it is not even a guarantee that the launch will take place that day. It’s a risk I am willing to take. My opportunity to accomplish this goal is coming to an end and it is time to do whatever it takes to turn this goal into a reality.
wow, that’s great! i hope it all goes well, and you reach your goal of seeing a launch live! that would indeed be an awesome event! :) and kudos to your teacher for being cool about it. :) so excited for you!
I hope everything works out as well. I will be in the area for a couple of days, so if it gets delayed, I have a small buffer but it could throw a wrench into my other plans (DISNEYLAND!) while I am there. I just have to put my faith in the powers that be and if this doesn’t work out, I’ll have to figure out a Plan B!
What a cool professor! It’s my goal too…well to see a rocket launch. Not necessarily a space shuttle. I figure I’m going to live to be 100 and by then they’ll be launching weekly so I’ll be fine. :D
Actually, I am confused. Is this different?
It is different. The actual Space Shuttle program will be ending in September. They will still be launching rockets but the “Shuttle” will be no more, and it is the icon of the American Space Program. When I wrote this article, it was before Obama made his announcement the other day about pursuing missions to Mars, so while I still feel a pang of disappointment about the Shuttle program ending, I am happy that we will still be pursuing lofty goals at NASA.
Good luck on living until 100, I hope to live forever! :)
I read somewhere that you can email your state senator and ask for VIP tickets for the Press area. They are hard to get, but it is a request congressmen have the ability to make with NASA for their constituents.
I emailed mine for the May 14th Atlantis launch (to the tour coordinator) and had no response, but I suppose if you called them far enough in advance you might get an aide that could help you.
Thanks for the suggestion, I might just check that out!
Even if you can’t get to the press area, you can see it clearly from anywhere along the coastal cities just fine (where most people watch). It’s only a few miles away, which is not too much further than the press area. I can see the flames from the engines in the daylight from my house 110 miles away on the Gulf of Mexico side. You will be able to see, hear and FEEL it anywhere in Titusville.
Thanks James for the tip, I am hoping to get a ticket to the Causeway but if I am not able, I will still be there in some capacity to see the launch. I have heard there are some good viewing places on nearby beaches if things don’t work out with the tickets.
I just got an email back from my senator’s office and they said they would put me on a list for the November launch. I checked and it looks like the Endeavour which I thought was previously scheduled for the end of July is now planned for Mid November, the date is not set. Given that you said you got stuff prepared for the Endeavour launch, you might want to check on the information.
I know you can see a launch from anywhere in that area of Florida, but I like to be as close as possible.
Yes, I got the update this morning about the reschedule. I’m disappointed but I’ll just have to go to the September or November launch (or, at least TRY!) I hope they won’t reschedule again. Thanks for the update about the response from your Senator’s Office, that is awesome!
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