As I'm writing this entry, I've got NASA TV turned on. It is neat being in areas like Huntsville, Alabama and Cape Canaveral, Florida where they get cool stations like this. Well, back home we actually don't have cable, so perhaps that is an option and I just don't know about. I mentioned to a student the other day that I enjoy the show Myth Busters, but I don't get to watch it frequently - only during times, for example, when Monica is at the hospital having a baby. No that isn't why we have 7 children. (See 15 real reasons here.) Anyway, it was an amazing launch today...Okay, we had great seats, but not quite that good. NASA TV is credited with that shot.
With the Best Buy Teach Award we were able to get a nice HD digital video camera. On the bus ride back to Kennedy Space center I was showing the kids the footage we got. The guys from St. Louis sitting behind us were quite impressed with the clarity and quality of the video. Since I had an SD card in it I captured pictures from the launch video. From 6 miles away here are few of the shots I got.
The last shot shows the boosters separation. The commander, Mark Kelly, has a twin who is also an astronaut. Well, they think it was Mark and not Scott. The pilot is Ken Ham, not to be confused the scientist Ken Ham who gives great talks about creation.
Lunch with an astronaut was another excellent experience. When we first sat down at our table, Joseph was wondering if the empty seat next to him was for the astronaut. No, Sam Gemar didn't sit next to Joseph, but he did talk to my son and visited with us as we waited in line to get food. He answered questions to the 300 of us who gathered in the banquet hall/conference facility which is part of the Early Space Exploration building. He answered the question Hannah, from 3rd period physics, asked: The space station is about the size of a football field. If you are in Indianapolis, look here to see when is a good time to look up in the night sky and see it. Those of use who are somewhere else in the world right now, sighting information can be found here. This is a good week to see the ISS.
Another cool answer Astronaut Gemar told was that shortly after take off the Shuttle will be traveling 5 miles every second, or 10 times faster then a speeding bullet. Oh yeah, Supermen & woman. Karen Nyberg is one of the five rookies on this trip.
Astronaut Sam also told us that 1 out of 15 astronauts died in service. If this was true for the 300 people in the room, how many of us wouldn't make it? After the shuttle retires in a little over a year, Ares and Orion will be the next generation of space vehicles. These were designed to be hundreds of times safer. (I just saw the Altair symbol today. I'm interested in that patch.)