Saturday, April 30, 2011

Leaps and Bounds

Things did not go exactly according to plan for the good folks at NASA on Friday.  Thus, the scheduled launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour did not take place.  Apparently, there was a "glitch" (highly technical NASA super genius word) in a heater in one of the auxiliary power units.  I do not pretend to know what that all means.  I do know that it meant to the men and women who are in charge of playing the part of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones in the lives of their astronauts that the answer to the question was "Stay".

As far I could tell from the articles I read on-line, as of day's end Friday there was no new set date for the launch.  It sounded as if it was more a case of, "It will launch when it is ready to be launched", which I presume is more than a bit of a bummer for those who had traveled to Florida to witness Endeavour's final flight begin on Friday.  The First Family was in attendance.  If I understood an article I had read earlier during the week on the launch, had Endeavour lifted off as planned on Friday morning, the Obamas would have been the first First Family to witness a Shuttle launch.  It is neat to be a kid whose dad has a gig that gives you the chance to see cool stuff; right? 

Endeavour's Commander in a Jersey guy.  Mark Kelly is from West Orange.  For the past several months, he has been better known by a much longer title, "Husband of United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords".  Congresswoman Giffords was among the several victims of the gunman who opened fire at a Tucson neighborhood event she was hosting for her constituents in January.  She survived being shot in the head.  She has made what appears from afar to be truly remarkable progress - considering of course that in the immediate aftermath of the attack - there was at least one report that she had been killed.  Within several weeks of the attack she was transferred from her hospital in Arizona to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, Texas.  On Wednesday of launch week, she flew from Houston to Florida to be present for the launch.  The video of her on the tarmac, getting out of a wheelchair and then walking slowly but surely up the stairs and onto the plane is remarkable stuff. 

In a perfect world, Commander Kelly and his crew would have launched as planned on Friday afternoon, under the watchful eyes of not only his Commander-in-Chief but his #1 gal.  Methinks that the delay, while an annoyance, is not going to dampen the disposition of either the Rocket Man or his Congresswoman.  Kelly and Giffords have a keen appreciation of the value of time and the importance of perspective.  I suspect that they will make it over this speed bump just fine.  They have handled bigger problems than an irksome heater on an auxiliary power unit....whatever the hell that is exactly.

And on a day when the world's attention was drawn to a celebration of love on the far side of the pond, it is worth pointing out that here in these United States some folks know what love is too....

.....all the way to infinity and beyond.


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