July 12, 2001

Too Much Time on my Hands


2:15 AM Thursday morning:

Exploiting my natural tendency to nocturnalism in order to try to stay up for the planned space shuttle launch this morning at around 5 AM (my time, and space shuttle time).

Normal people might try to wake up early at 5 AM.
There's no way.
I'd just roll over and say forget it.
Besides, 5 AM is only an hour or two later than the latest I stay up for no reason.

I don't have to be anywhere tomorrow morning.
Now that's a luxury, to me.
Paradoxically, not having a life enables me to do what I want.

I might not make it to 5 AM; starting to feel a little sleepy.
Sometimes I can fight it off.


1 PM Thursday afternoon:

I didn't make it - headed to bed sometime after 3:00.
They launched the shuttle without me.

This morning, Hubby asked,
What time did you get to bed last night?
Me: Kind of late, I was trying to stay up for the shuttle launch.
Hubby (smugly): I saw it.
(He's an early riser, often up by 5 AM. He thinks this makes him a better person for some reason.)
Me: Why didn't you poke me? Next time, poke me!
Hubby (still smug): You just don't know how to keep normal hours.
Me: I don't know?
Hubby: Who saw the launch?

Aargh.

Late last night when I tuned in the online NASA TV station they had a live view of the shuttle on the launch pad.

It was attached to the large rocket and the boosters, the usual set-up, and was brightly lit against the night sky. A few wisps of steam (or something white) were billowing about the top and bottom of the rocket, enough to show that it was not a still photo.

That picture stirred something, and I'm trying to figure out what and why.

It's not the first time; the launches and landings almost always affect me that way.

I like to think I'm nature girl, movable only by the natural wonders of the world; anything man-made is suspect.
Not in this case.
The shuttle, awaiting launch, looked majestic, glorious, transcendent.

It's no doubt a generational thing. My kids cannot relate, nor can some younger people that I've discussed it with.
I can never tire of the wonders of space flight, just as people who grew up in the early 1900's must have felt towards automobiles and airplanes and other technological advances that we now consider mundane.

There's more to it than that - it must have acquired some symbolism in my mind along the way. I find my fascination with it increasing with time.

The fascination is specifically related to the process of space travel, not the function. I'm less interested in what they accomplish and how they live while in orbit. It's the getting up and down (safely) that thrills me.

Nor is it a desire to go into space myself - I don't even get on an airplane unless I must.

Maybe it has to do with seeing the better side of man. We're so bombarded with bad news, testaments to our dark, evil nature, that a clean, bright vision of this kind of accomplishment feels like a renewal of the human spirit.

That's about as far as I can analyze it at the moment. (Which, no doubt, is more than far enough.)

How about a discussion of space travel on the forum?
Where were you during the moon landing?
Or if you weren't, how do you feel about the current space program?

There's only one lonely comment on yesterday's topic:
please don't let it be the last word!

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