In just a few hours, the Discovery STS-133 will launch from its pad at Kennedy, and start its mission in space. What an amazing experience that must be, to feel the great engines lift you aloft and then the pressure gradually build until you are released into an environment of micro-gravity. The clock is already counting down; the anticipation must be building in Mission Control even now.
I would love to be there, in that room, watching it all happen. Feeling the energy in the room, ebbing and flowing as processes are followed. People start gathering, sitting in the stands with binoculars and cameras at the ready watching the clock count down. They will feel the compression and shock of the air as the gases mix and combust. The sound will vibrate the inner ear as the eye watches the orbiter being carried away from the gravitational pull of the earth.
How amazing it is that such a thing received so much of its early constructive knowledge in warfare. Early parents of rocketry found themselves gaining experience during the World Wars, as the instruments rained down terrible experiences on the population below. That beautiful orbiter, the External Tank, and Solid Rocket Boosters, they are an instrument of peace and exploration. We have just started understanding space, it’s mysteries and complexities, and something of terror gave birth to something of beauty.