When We Left Earth – What the Shuttle Meant to Me

I was reading through the Radio Times to see if there was anything cool on the telly soon. It was a warm, sunny day in July 2002 and I found a programme that had caught my eye. I highlighted it and said to my dad “can we record this please?” I was 11 and cable had yet to be introduced to our lonely corner of the village. A good friend and neighbor however had more money than the rest of us in the cul-de-sac and had this thing called Sky along with a funny dish stuck to his house. He could record it for me, and he did!

The programme was called ‘Rocket Men of Mission 105’ and the description in the Radio Times had read something like ‘the story of a mission to space’. The next day the neighbor bought up the programme recorded onto VHS for me (Yes VHS) and I sat down to watch it with an un-blinked glaze in my eyes for just under and hour. Here, I think, my obsession with space began.

Since then I’ve missed maybe only two or three launches. I managed to persuade my parents to let me wake up in the early hours to see some night launches. I recall one time getting up at something like 3am to see the launch of Endeavour. In the time before YouTube existed I recorded the launches onto VHS so I could watch them again and again.
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Cadets Meet Space Shuttle Astronauts

This is a copy of a report I wrote a few months ago about our visit to see the STS-132 astronauts. The report was used in the Devon and Somerset Wing Air Cadet Magazine ‘The Mercury’

This year marks a very special year for NASA, and it is, rather unfortunately, a sad one too. It all started long before I was born on the 12th of April 1981. On that day 2 men, one an ex-Apollo astronaut, found themselves strapped into a new vehicle, a vehicle that would launch them 166 miles upwards at a speed of 17,500mph, a vehicle that would protect them whilst orbiting our pale blue dot, and a vehicle that could withstand 1500°C of heat whilst re-entering the atmosphere and slowing them down to less than 300mph before touchdown. This vehicle is of course, the Space Shuttle. Continue reading

Ascent – Commemorating the Shuttle

If, like me, you have been mesmerised by the Space Shuttle since you first saw a launch, then you’ll love this.

My colleague posted this video on Facebook and I just had to share it with you. The video is a series of different slow motion cameras looking at the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on a few of its missions, mainly STS-124. The first few are from the engineering cameras that film at around 400fps in various location, close-up, around the Shuttle. There are some truly stunning slow motion clips of the 3 main engines lighting up, it’s hard to describe, almost magical, the detail is astounding!

There are 2 engineers from the Glenn Research Centre who talk you through the different shots and about the different cameras and about how the shuttle operates. All very fascinating. I learnt a lot of interesting information that I didn’t know before.

So please, sit back, relax and gawp in amazement at this incredible video!