Friday, July 08, 2011

When CNN is more government than Government.

I flicked on the TV in Roomie's bedroom to a local network affiliate at T -9 Minutes. They still hadn't cut away from Ellen DeGeneres. So I flicked over to CNN.

I was hoping for a loving closeup of Atlantis while a voice-over recited cool facts about the Shuttle Program:
  • "The three main engines produce more CO2 than 127 Senate filibusters."
  • "One Solid Rocket Booster has a carbon footprint equivalent to the nation of Indonesia."
  • "The exhaust plume at liftoff is large enough to incinerate ten and a half federal office buildings."
Instead I got half a screen devoted to a distant shot of the Shuttle while the other half was devoted to the real stars of the show at CNN: Various media talking heads basking in their own importance, reminiscing about their memories of the Shuttle program and what it meant to them.

Cursing, I scuttled to the big screen in the living room and managed to get it tuned to NASA TV at about T -5:15, and was treated to the loving closeups I wanted and the quiet chatter of NASA's actual launch dialog. And as an added bonus, once Atlantis was too high to track from the ground, they cut over to the camera on the external tank. I watched until the main engines cut off and the explosive bolts fired...

Watching that ship float gracefully up off the tank and out of view in glorious living color on a big screen TV in dead silence was one of the coolest things I've ever seen on a television screen.

25 comments:

Mossyrock said...

My kids (18 and 24) made the trip cross-country and watched the launch live from Kennedy on about two hours worth of sleep. Funny, but they sure seemed wide-awake when I talked to them!

Brandon said...

I watched the NASA TV feed streaming via NASA's website. Definitely the way to go. We don't need no steenking talking heads.

Homer said...

Watched the first 20 seconds or so from my driveway (yes, I'm that close) until Atlantis disappeared into the clouds, then went inside to run the DVRed version from about T -3 to 10 minutes to get the whole thing on the big screen.

End of an era, which isn't a bad thing; what will be a bad thing is if the .gov fails to recognize that life has changed since the first shuttle lifted off and tries to control access to space. I don't think they can, but I could foresee them trying.

RevGreg said...

I sat wondering how many of the products of our education system (right up through college) sat complaining that NASA has lost the audio feed from the shuttle as it left the atmosphere.

Wayne said...

I can't buy a can of Freon because it is an "ozone deleting substance" containing chlorine, but the space shuttle SRMs dump tons of chlorine into the ozone layer every launch. Don't hear too much about the ozone layer anymore.

Graybeard said...

Not to be too much of an *, but the main engines don't generate any CO2. They generate H20. The SSMEs burn LH2 and LOX.

Darrell said...

Here is a great video of the STS-129 launch. Go full screen and turn it up. It's...beautiful.

http://www.vimeo.com/7852885

Old NFO said...

And we'll never see that again in our lifetimes... We are now second class citizens in the space race. And I'm truly glad it was a good launch, at least they are going out on a high note.

Tam said...

Graybeard,

Yeah, I realized that as I was typing up my "Fun Facts", but decided to go with artistic license for the chuckles.

(And I think most Senate sessions need more H2O, but I don't know how much it would take to fill the chamber. Or how much plumber's tape it would take to seal the windows and doors. ;) )

Discobobby said...

"Watching that ship float gracefully up off the tank and out of view in glorious living color on a big screen TV in dead silence was one of the coolest things I've ever seen on a television screen."

I could not agree more. We had it up on a huge conference room screen, and that's the moment that shook everyone the most.

DirtCrashr said...

And laying on my back, it's turtles all the way down...

Rob Reed said...

You know the only thing cooler then watching on NASA TV?

Watching it live in person.

After 30 years I finally got a chance to watch a launch live. It was fantastic!

Rob (Trebor)

Anonymous said...

I've watched 17 launches live from 100 miles away, including the Challenger on that cold and bright but dark as night day...but I lost this one to the cloud cover.

I did watch the feed, though, and it was flawless. That moment that Tam mentioned, when the means to break the surly bonds are jettisoned and it's fly or die, reminds me of being dropped in a glider; the silence, and hoping the guy at the controls has a better grasp of why and how the thing is going to fly with no propulsion than I do. Or taking a leap of faith from a plane miles high with the knowledge that only strings and a patch of polyester that someone else packed can prevent you from getting dead and six feet under all in one great impact...but being mesmerized by the ability to spread your wings and fly like a bird in the interim.

The space shuttles have been rightly maligned for the waste, mismanagement, politics, and misdirection that are their legacy. But none of that diminishes the absolute awesomeness of the huge and barely-controlled bomb that these things are, or the amazing feats of science, math, and physics that make it possible. And I am especially in awe of the individual cowboys and cowgirls that ride that wild googolplex of horsepower into the unknown with no hesitation.

I've done the glider and para things once each, strapped onto someone else who i trusted to know how...and they proved they did.

The mission might just be to bring lunch to Yuri up on the ISS...but given the chance I'd be strapped into that shuttle too, with no guarantees required.

Well, maybe some day. Go SpaceX!

AT

OrangeNeck said...

If those guys are smart, they'll take the shuttle and just keep going and never come back. That's what I would do.

Robin said...

It is the end of an era. The era of the United States having a manned space flight program.

When this one comes down, we are nothing but hitchhikers.

And that infuriates me.

Tam said...

AT,

Yet again another handful of monkeys rode the bullet right out the top of the tree.

One of these days, we'll land in another tree for keeps. :)

DirtCrashr said...

We have to find another tree, that's what monkeys do.

Doug Watson said...

The company I work for handles all of the broadcast responsibilities for NASA TV. You're welcome.

Craig said...

I got to watch the launch from 3-1/2 miles away, just by stepping outside of my office building. I've been fortunate to see every one of the shuttles launch starting with STS-4 and all of the Apollo launches (at the banks of the Indian River) from start to finish when I was a kid. Let me tell you, Cronkite WASN'T exaggerating.
With the shuttle, the clothes on your body MOVE from the sound wave energy, even as far away as 8 miles. And that's WITH the sound suppression water that is dumped onto the pad at main engine start. I will very much miss that experience.

Tam said...

Thank you, Doug. Srsly. :)

Kevin said...

I grew up on the Space Coast. My family moved to Titusville, FL in 1966, when I was four years old. I got to watch all of the Saturn V launches, either from the bank of the Indian River, some 8 miles from Launch Complex 39, or from my front yard, some 3.5 miles further away.

I don't think anything could be more impressive than 7.5 million pounds of thrust lifting a 365 foot 6.5 million pound rocket. I'm sorry I never got to see a shuttle launch with my bare eyeball, but I'm very glad I got to see the Saturn V's go.

On the day of the launch of Apollo 11, my family (and tens of thousands of others) were lining the banks of the Indian River. I was seven years old. One memory that will never leave me was one member of our party, a friend of our neighbor, yelling "They're getting ready to launch, Edna! I can see the man with the match!"

Half of the crowd within earshot laughed. The other half immediately raised their binoculars to get a look.

I can, sadly, tell my grandchildren that when I was a little boy Americans walked on the moon, drove dunebuggys there, and left them for future generations to restore and hot-rod.

Anonymous said...

When you're in the hardware store, at the checkout, and the clerk asks if you found everything ok, tell him/her you couldn't find the explosive bolts. I guarantee for one brief, shining moment, you'll be too cool for the room.

Gnarly Sheen said...

"One of these days, we'll land in another tree for keeps. :)"

At which time we'll kill all the blue-colored natives of that tree for their hidden stores of unobtainium.

Anonymous said...

I was glad to *finally* (and I guess I really mean finally in two ways) see a launch from KSC.
Burned a 16-hour trail across the South, watched the launch, and burned it all the way back home to be here for work this morning.

Tired as hell and couldn't be happier about it. :-)

Tam said...

Anon 11:54,

You will never again have the chance to see one, so there you go. ;)