Thursday, August 09, 2007

Space Shuttle Education

The Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-118 - 119th shuttle flight) blasted off yesterday at about 6:36 p.m. local time.

At about 6:05 p.m., the kids and I had just sat down at Goldstar for some Cincinnati chili. I mentioned to them that I'd like to be able to make it home to watch the shuttle take off in about a half-an-hour. Then, I wondered out loud if we'd be able to make it. I thought that it'd be close, but if we didn't make it, it'd be ok . . . it wasn't worth stressing about.

But then, I had a mini-victory. My laptop was in the car. With a little luck, we'd get a wireless signal on the way home and we'd stop and be able to watch the event.

So, a little after 6:30 found us parked on the side of the road with me holding the laptop up facing the back of the minivan with all of us watching the little screen and listening to the countdown.

We watched it clear the tower, roll, and keep on going. I still get a proud and impressed feeling when I see it lift off.

But that isn't really what this post is about.

Not too many people watch the shuttle take off or land anymore which (I guess) is ok. So, sometimes not too many people have any public working knowledge about it. Here is some of the trivia that I know:
  • On ascent, the shuttle slows a little to go through the sound barrier. Then they "Throttle up to 106%". It was when they throttled-up that the Challenger exploded [the throttling up was unrelated to the explosion].
  • A little after clearing the tower, the shuttle rolls to help with telemetry and communication.
  • About 8 minutes into the launch, the shuttle is PNR - past the Point of No Return - they are going to space -- even if they lose all of their main engines.
This also is not what the post is about, but the following is:

So K. was having a discussion with one of her friends about the shuttle. K. stated that after a little while, the rockets fall away from the shuttle. Her friend disagreed in what I picture as a looking down the nose type of disagreement. K. stood her ground and reiterated that they do fall away -- and so does the large fuel tank. The friend disagreed again.

K. brought it up during bedtime tucking-in. While talking about, I mentioned to K. that it was ok that her friend disagreed, but K knew what she knew -- she had seen it first hand -- she saw the rockets separate.

And that is what this post is about. Because Dad likes shuttle launches and even puts lift-off into his Outlook schedule to try to see them, his enthusiasm for this has (been forced to) rubbed off on his kids a little bit.

Nearly instant feedback on some of the parenting that is going on around the homestead! It felt good.

Incidentally, landing is scheduled for no earlier than August 18, 2:29 p.m.

Here are links to the launch and the rocket separation. Godspeed STS-118.

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