Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mir Ceased to Exist

2dayNspace: Ten years ago today the Mir Space Station was deorbited and burned up in the atmosphere. The stansi precrasnaya (beautiful station) was designed to last 5 years. When I was on rotation in the TsUP during the 10 year anniversary, we had quite a massive celebration (vodka flowing of course). The pride and accomplishment was evident in the eyes of the Energia engineers in the control center. To ditch it after fifteen, was painful to say the least. But resources needed to be freed up for the new international space station - ISS.

The official statement from the TsUP echoed the sentiment... "Mir ceased to exist" at 05:59:24am GMT (12:59:24am CDT). That's it - not even able to glorify her achievements. The news release from Pravda includes an interesting statement at the end: "the work of the specialists in ballistics received an excellent mark, although there was no applause at the Mission Control Centre (TsUP)."

The very sad video.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Obviuosly a Major Malfunction

25 years ago I was released from class early because my professor had a laryngitis. I headed to the student center and saw everyone crowded around the tv. Assumed Reagan had declared war and kept walking. As I got to the second tv room, I saw the shuttle launch footage on the screen and heard Peter Jennings say, "And here is when it happened." I stopped in my tracks and watched the horrific view. I don't remember much else from that day, only that I watched tv coverage of it ALL day... until I finally had to turn it off to breathe.

As I spoke of yesterday, I allow myself to experience this pain yet not fall into it. You keep it alive in you by whatever method you may use - mine is the first patch on my wall even though I started working at JSC between STS-29 and STS-30. But on these anniversary days, we watch the videos and allow ourselves to get closer to falling into that pit of which we have no control.

Take a minute today and allow yourself to go there in their honor!

Live Footage - extensive coverage of crowd reaction (chills among chills... BEWARE - includes families)
More new footage from someone's yard (they've got trouble of some kind... really? - sobering shot at the end depicting the cold weather)
ABC Newsflash with Steve Bell
NBC Live Aftermath Coverage
Four hours after live coverage clip with an emotional and haggered Peter Jennings
Peter Jennings World News Tonight
NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw
Reagan's words (slip the surly bonds and touch the face of God)

New Challenger Tribute for the 25th Anniversary with song that took 25 years to release! The story behind the "new" tribute song for the 25th Anniversary of Challenger

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Slipping the Surly Bonds

I have always grumbled at the fact that NASA wants to group three very distinct tragedies into one Day of Remembrance. Today was the first time I had been to the Astronaut Memorial Grove for an event. And most certainly the first time I had been there since Columbia. As I drove in the gates at NASA, I saw a small gate by the badging office open. I simply thought, oh how nice & convenient. I parked and walked towards the grove. There were three wreaths placed central to their respective crewmembers. As I got closer to the Apollo 1 wreath, I realized there were family and friends in attendance. A lot of effort is put into this Day of Remembrance by NASA to honor the fallen astronauts and comfort the family - blood and the NASA family. I realize Day of Remembrance is the best approach after all.

I stayed back and let families and close friends pay respects. As they would move on, I would follow and pay mine... watching the time so as to be ready for the flyover. Then it covered me up as I was waiting my turn with the Columbia wreath. I was surrounded by the memorial tress when the T-38s screamed by... Looking up, I caught a quick, masked glance at the low-flying jets and saw Charlie's pull up to form the missing man. I have never been able to hold it together for a missing man formation. I just stood there - for the longest time... and finally moved over the Columbia wreath. Realistically, I was still in another place. Because I went back by later as I was walking out and had another "moment" with Columbia.It amazes me this still affects me the way it does. For the most part, my strong nature controls these feelings - allowing myself to experience them but not fall into them. Like my first trip to KSC after Columbia... Totally not even thinking, hurt and pain filed away, I wander on up the the ASF memorial with my parents and see the names of the Columbia crew on the wall. I lost it... like such a shock, seeing it makes it real. And today after already paying my respects, I stop by the Columbia wreath once more - and just stand there. No other activity or people to watch. Everyone is gone and it's just me - me and that pain. When I finally walked away, a photographer stopped me to get my name, asked if I worked here, and if I knew them. Yea, I knew a few of them. But, it is just so more than that.

When I got in the truck, Amazing grace was on. Why did I even put makeup on today?

T-38 pilots for the flyover were:
Astronaut Charlie Hobaugh/Astronaut Pat Forrester ("pull up")
Astronaut Ken Ham/Astronaut Steve Robinson
Ray Heineman/Astronaut David Saint-Jacques
Nebojza Solunak/Astronaut Soichi Noguchi (photo by Soichi)

A fifth T-38 in the air on standby (and likely not seen):
Mike Giles/Astronaut Mike Hopkins

I noticed the clouds several times and thought they seemed to emanate slipping the surly bonds of the Earth.

A fitting end. The poem