I was out for my 10am walk as usual. Walking up Joyce Street, just south of 395 and the Pentagon, I looked up and saw the space shuttle Discovery taking a piggyback ride on 747. That’s when I remembered why there was so much traffic heading into the District this morning. I didn’t take a picture, but when I rounded the corner onto Army Navy Drive, it came around again, and I snapped two quick photos. This is the better one, zoomed in as much as I could manage. (The first flyby was much closer than this second one.)
That blur at about 11 o’clock above the shuttle is a military fighter escort.
What was remarkable was that traffic on 395 had stopped. People had pulled over and gotten out of their cars to watch and take pictures. I’ve never seen anything quite like that before.
Space shuttle Discovery is on its way to the International Space Station. I watched the launch, the first night time launch in more than 4 years. MECO (main engine cutoff) was nominal with no residual burn required. Nine minutes to orbit. It was pretty cool to watch!
Today is, of course, the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It seems to me that a lot of people of my generation don’t realize this, but the date was burned into me by my Grandpa, and from my reading of American history.
On a brighter note, we are just about 13 hours away from the launch of the space shuttle Discovery on a mission to the International Space Station. The launch is currently scheduled for 9:35 PM EST. It means I’ll have to stay up past my bedtime, but I try never to miss a shuttle launch. It is one of the most exhilarating things I can think of to watch. And, of course, I always imagine that I am on board when the countdown hits “liftoff!”
So the next shuttle launch, STS 121 is still go for this coming Saturday, July 1. Launch time is scheduled for 3:49 PM EDT. Anyone interested in watching the launch can do so from NASA TV, and I’m sure the major networks will be covering it too.
It’s the second shuttle launch in about a year. I get excited about every manned space mission, this one no exception. (It’s the kid in me who wanted to be an astronaut.)