Last Sunday while visiting Chincoteague Island my brother and I had a blast viewing NASA’s Orbital ATK Antares rocket launch from Wallops Island on its way to the International Space Station.
REALLY COLD!! When we arrived at Wallops Island Visitor Center at 4:30AM (3 hours before Saturday’s scheduled 7:37AM launch, as suggested online & by visitor center reps), it was a whopping 25F (17F windchill.) Hundreds of folks were already there (we barely found a grassy parking space near the back) & hundreds more continued to pour in.
We left Williamsburg the previous Monday thinking the weather would be moderate (turtleneck? flannel shirt? rain jacket?) After one warm day temps dropped, and dropped, until reaching birrizzzy range during our launch viewing outside on cold metal bleachers.
Once the sun came up, the view was amazing. Huddling in & out of the warmth of Wallops Visitor Center, we met such interesting folks – NASA enthusiasts young & old, tall & small, families, groups of friends, children, teachers from all over – Washington, D.C., Norfolk, Va. Beach – one family drove 4 hours that morning from Petersburg, VA.
As the broadcast countdown brought us to our feet to see the launch (binoculars at the ready) at one minute (& counting) NASA had to abort the launch due to a beanhead pilot from MD flying his private plane in the no-fly zone.
We were disappointed, but when NASA rescheduled for the next morning we still had a few more nights in Chincoteague to give it another look-see.
This time round, however, no getting up at 3:00AM and sitting in the freezing cold for us. On Sunday we rolled out of our hotel rooms & down to the pier where we were staying at 7:00AM to see the 7:15AM launch.
As a group of us watched from the pier, the sound blasted over and around us, reverberating as it flew in the clouds above us.
It was really cool!
On the pier, a NASA representative from Wallops Island had his laptop real-time linked to the control center, so we had a chance to hear the official buzz as the rocket made it into orbit (everyone in the control room clapped, like in the movies!!) Then he stayed around for a half hour answering all our questions.
(One of mine: did the re-supply include vodka for the Russian astronauts? what kind? As a Slavic Studies minor in university, Stoli was our go-to vodka.)
Evidently we get along with the Russians in space (they provide transport for astronauts to & from the International Space Station) – why can’t we get along better on this planet?
🚀 grace, peace & rockets 🚀
Virginia : )
“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.” Albert Einstein