We seldom have a chance to report breaking news and events here, but today’s an exception.
All of Los Angeles has been awaiting the arrival of Space Shuttle Endeavour. For plenty o’ publicity, the folks at NASA and the California Science Center arranged to have the 747 carrying the shuttle zoom all over the LA basin so that everyone could get a look at the Center’s new exhibit.
From here, we knew it would fly over Long Beach, several miles to the east of us, so we duly mounted to the roof and looked around. A very hazy day meant we could barely distinguish features in Long Beach, even through binoculars. Plus, it’s hot up on that roof under bright sun when the temperature in the shade is over 90.
Five minutes later, I heard a sound outside — a distinctive sound — stepped out the back door, and saw Endeavour on its 747 and two chase jets. Well, at least I had the camera ready from my trip to the roof (click on photo for larger image).
The era of space exploration has been in full bloom throughout my life, and it’s daunting to think of what will get people into space in these ambitious programs of mind-blowing complexity once again. It will happen, and I’m sorry that there will be a pause while everything resets.
I’d like to take a moment to remember my onetime colleague, Ron Parise. Ron was an astrophysicist with many accomplishments to his credit, the most spectacular of which was being a payload specialist on two shuttle missions, Astro-1, in 1990, on Columbia, and Astro-2 in 1995, aboard this very craft, Endeavour. Those missions and subsequent science related to them were landmarks in expanding knowledge about ultraviolet radiation in the universe. Ron’s career continued with other notable accomplishments until his untimely death in 2008 at age 56. He was actually employed by the same firm as I, providing the mission support science as part of the company’s contract with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He and I were born in Ohio in the same year. He’s one of several notable Ohio astronauts, including John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. Our company had tens of thousands of workers in many advanced fields, but there was nothing cooler than having our own astronaut!
He was a remarkable and charming man, and it’s bittersweet to see his spacecraft fly over. CLICK HERE to read more about Ron on Wikipedia.
So, welcome, Endeavour. Pretty soon, you can come visit it at the California Science Center, in the same complex as the dinosaurs we wrote about HERE.
© 2013 Brad Nixon