I woke up at 4 a.m. PST to watch the launch of NASA’s new spacecraft, Orion. It sent chills down my spine and reminded me of how much I’d been missing America’s space program after the last flight of the space shuttle.
Orion launched just as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful juxtaposition; just dark enough to lend an eerie quality to the proceedings, added to the poignancy of the dawn heralding a new era for the space program.
When I was a child, my dad took the family on a long road trip across the country. One stop was at Cape Canaveral. By coincidence, NASA was about to launch an Apollo mission to meet up with a USSR Soyuz spacecraft in a symbol of cooperation at the height of the Cold War. I witnessed the launch.
It is difficult to convey the experience, but realize that when the rocket ignites, you can feel it. I mean, the air pressure changes from the explosive nature of the event and your chest is compressed by it. The ground beneath your feet rumbles, and at that moment you know it is the most awesome thing you may ever witness. It is not only a visual experience; it is a visceral experience.
NASA says that it will take several years to get to the point when an Orion spaceship will launch with the intent of sending humans to Mars. I’ve decided that if I’m still alive when that happens, I’m going to be there.