Part of life here in Orlando includes the once-regular Space Shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral and the frequent Delta Rocket launches. Having the gateway to space as your next-door neighbour is one of the few positive attributes of living in this area.
And now that two and a half years have passed since the last Space Shuttle launch, I share with NASA the enthusiasm of returning the Shuttle fleet to space. As such, I am going to drive to the coast to watch mission STS-114 get off the ground. Now while the view from my front yard is spectacular, nothing compares to sitting on the gravel beach of the Banana River directly across from the launch complex. The initial flash of light at ignition and the delayed rumbling make the experience one you not only see, but feel.
Dean Acosta/Allard Beutel
Michael J. Rein
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
June 30, 2005
NASA Gives Go for Space Shuttle Return to Flight
NASA has cleared the Space Shuttle to Return to Flight. After a two-day Flight Readiness Review meeting at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, senior managers approved a July 13 launch date for Discovery.
Commander Eileen Collins and her crew are scheduled to lift off at 3:51 p.m. EDT on the first U.S. space flight since the February 2003 loss of the Shuttle Columbia.
"After a vigorous, healthy discussion our team has come to a decision: we're ready to go," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said after the meeting. "The past two and half years have resulted in significant improvements that have greatly reduced the risk of flying the Shuttle. But we should never lose sight of the fact that space flight is risky.
"The Discovery mission, designated STS-114, is a test flight," Griffin said, noting that astronauts will try out a host of new Space Shuttle safety enhancements. In addition, Discovery will carry 15 tons of supplies and replacement hardware to the International Space Station. July 13 is the beginning of three weeks of possible launch days that run through July 31.
NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Operations, William Readdy, chaired the Flight Readiness Review, the meeting that traditionally sets launch dates and assesses the Shuttle's fitness to fly.
"Today's decision is an important milestone in returning the Shuttle to service for the country. Our technical and engineering teams are continuing their in-depth preparations to ensure that Eileen and her crew have a successful mission," he said.
As I was driving down Interstate-4 this afternoon, I was passed by a CSX
work truck. It was outfitted with the über-cool hyrail technology
, allowing the truck to be driven on regular city streets and with the push of a button, on rail as well.
It reminded me of the first time I saw such a vehicle. As I was approaching a railroad crossing, the indicator lights came alive and the stop arms lowered into place. Instead of a whistle and locomotive, a lone pick-up truck rode by on the tracks.
At the time I thought that was extraordinary, but I later learned that these vehicles are used all the time. In fact, Union Pacific
has a fleet of larger, delivery truck-sized vehicles with enhanced hyrail used to detect possible trouble on the tracks. Filled with sensor equipment and computers, these rail detector trucks
roam the country inspecting about 145,500 miles of track a year.
Not too long ago my friends Claire and Ash — who are engaged to be married in October of this year — left their rented townhouse and purchased a home. While I had originally figured on stopping by to visit and see the new place while in transit to Athens, Georgia helping move Erik and Lauren in to their new apartment, it was concluded that a detour to Tallahassee would be too time consuming and costly with the rented moving van.
So instead, Erik and I are taking a dedicated trip to visit them next week. We will be leaving Orlando on either Wednesday or Thursday, stopping in Gainesville to chat and possibly dine with friends Dan and Andrea. Our return is scheduled for Saturday evening, as Erik has an early morning work schedule for the following Sunday.
I am looking forward to this trip. It has been over six months since I have been to Tallahassee or seen Claire and Ash, plus it will be fun to see the new home.
Has anyone else noticed that within the past few weeks the on-screen television ratings
— meant to help enable parental control over programming in concert with v-chip technology — have increased in size? Additionally, on some networks they seem to appear at the start of each show's segment after a commercial break.
I apparently need to do some reading to see if the FCC regulations have been modified recently to affect this change.
Fiery Spices. Juicy. Crispy.
I just heard a Wendy's advert for their spicy chicken sandwich
. The voice-over stated, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the chicken." I immediately thought about the scene in Girl, Interrupted
when Daisy has a Freudian slip and says "eat-in chicken" instead of kitchen.
Yes, that is the same film wherein the character Susanna — played by Winona Ryder — says, "Have you ever... stolen something when you have the cash?"
The irony makes me giggle.