Shuttle & ISS Over the US this week

18 11 2008

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The shuttle Endeavor is at the space station right now.  It had a flawless launch just before 7pm CST Friday.  My boys and I were watching Space Chimps and we had just watched the scene where they blast off of the launch pad and I said, “Hey, it’s about time for the real shuttle to launch!”  I paused the cartoon and flipped over to NASA TV just in time to catch the 9-minute countdown.  It was really cool because that gave me just enough time to explain what happens in those last 10 seconds before lift-off.  If you didn’t catch it, it was great!  Night launch.  Gorgeous.

One of my favorite astronauts, Don Pettit, is aboard this flight.  He’s a NASA Science Officer, which is way cooler than being a pilot or mission commander.  I like him so much because of his devotion to scientific experiments, even simple elementary-level ones.  But what’s great about him is his constant attention to NASA’s mission of educating the public.  Check out some of his articles, especially this video collection of what happens when you get Alka-Seltzer wet in space!

Folks in the continental US will be able to see the shuttle each evening this week.  Head over to heavens-above.com and put in your location to get all the visible passes for you this week.  Since the shuttle and the ISS are connected right now, the shuttle isn’t listed as a satellite.  Click on the link for the ISS instead.  No binoculars or any other special equipment needed.  It’ll be as bright as the brightest star in the sky.

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5 responses

18 11 2008
DaveS

So, when I lived in Orlando I used to go see launches a lot, but night launches are rare. Even from Orlando, 20-30 miles away, it lights up the sky like daylight for a few seconds (assuming ideal atmospheric conditions). It’s absolutely amazing.

Of course, I did the obligatory “watch it on TV then awkwardly run outside and film the real shuttle” thing once.

18 11 2008
Terry Johnson

WOW!!! That video is awesome! Right now I’m ordering everyone who reads these comments to click on Dave’s link and envy all those who live within viewing distance of KSC.

19 11 2008
Nick Jones

I unquestioningly obey. That’s really cool. Dave, you’re a lucky man. Johnson, that’s a great story. Screw this CG stuff, lets watch a real launch! I think you should have sped up your talk about what happens a little sooner and played Space Oddity, synced up to the actual launch.

19 11 2008
Terry Johnson

Funny you should mention that. Have you seen Space Chimps? There’s this hilarious line in which one of the characters says, “Are you in space floating in a tin can? Are you David Bowie? Then you’re an astronaut!” My kids didn’t laugh, but Geneva and I did. Didn’t really know how to explain the joke to them, but you know the rule — if it has to be explained to you then by definition it’s no longer funny.

19 11 2008
Jeremy

Thanks for the link to the video – I envy you.

Also, thanks for reminding me that Heavens Above exists (seems like I’m always forgetting). I’m taking everyone I can outside tonight to watch the Endeavor and ISS pass (almost directly) overhead.

Cheers,
Jeremy

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