Friday, July 08, 2011

Goodbye Atlantis - July 8, 2011

I watched the Shuttle launch for the last time today. It was a flawless launch, though there was a brief delay at the :31 second mark for one last bit of reflection. I work at NASA Langley, so this milestone means a lot to me. I've always been a fan of the space program and it's been a true honor to get to work with the people who make the Shuttle possible. To share this historic moment with my such a good group of people is an honor. There are two theaters here on center and the main viewing event was set-up at the Pearl Young Theater, I opted for the back-up location as it is across the street from my office and it was also not as packed. There was no cheering when the spacecraft cleared the launch pad, we all have learned the hard way to wait a bit now until that brilliant sliver of light reaches high enough to be safely in orbit. It was a somber, sad affair for the people watching in the room many of whom have spent their entire career working on the Shuttle. The USA will officially have no way to put humans into space after this mission. NASA's limited budget ($19 Billion this year, less then one sixteenth of one percent of the overall budget, less then two months worth of what we spend just on the Afghanistan war) forces the choice between maintaining a fleet of low orbit vehicles like the Shuttle or going for deep space goals like the Moon, Mars and beyond. They are choosing the later leaving the low orbit work to the private sector and Elon Musk's Space X Falcon System which is scheduled to have it's first manned launch in 2014. That seems like a long way off. Godspeed Atlantis!


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Image for 7-6-11 - The Speed of Life

Time is going by too fast for me right now. Once we get past the Fourth of July, it feels like a quick jump from Labor Day to Halloween and Christmas. I've been spending a lot of time on the road lately between the trips to Mississippi and Nags Head, not to mention my daily commute to work of fifty-four miles (roundtrip). Life becomes a blur at times, my own version of "Groundhog Day", wake-up-work-home-sleep-repeat. All we can do is make the time we have count for something.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Image for 7-4-11 - Happy Birthday America!

I spent the weekend down in Nags Head, NC with friends. It was a classic Fourth of July weekend; hot, hazy and lazy. The beach was covered in tourist. The pelicans glided through the hot air. Occasionally, a pod of dolphins cut through the waves. We ate, we drank and we napped. It was a fine time. Unfortunately, we had to drive back today,  so no fireworks at the beach, which was a slight drag. Any hope to catch some here at home was dampened by a heavy storm front. Happy 235th Birthday America.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

image for 7-2-11 - Train Game

Saturday night dominos with friends. Nothing better. Especially when I win!