This evening the folks at NASA will try, for the 6th time, to launch the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The first two times it was not weather that stopped the launch. But for the last three tries, it’s been ALL about the weather. You can look at radar and watch the lightning build up as we approach that 6:03 p.m. launch time. You can check out the official forecast that calls for a 60% chance of a GO! We’ll see. Keep in mind, if it gets called off  this time, it will tie the record for scrubs.

I’ve been lucky enough to see about 25 Shuttle launches. (yes, I counted) I saw my first one on September 8, 2000. We were in Orlando on our house hunting trip, preparing to move here from Detroit. While watching a news update on Local 6 I realized the Shuttle was about to go up. I remember running outside to see it. I was pretty impressed by how much of it I could see. At first I thought I must have missed it.  I didn’t realize it takes about 15 or 20 seconds for the ship to clear the horizon, trees and buildings. But once I spotted it, I was thrilled. A few months later I was working at Local 6 and got the assignment to go to the Cape for the launch. It was one thrilling night. I remember waiting and wondering “Why do they have this thing set to go up at 6:16 (or maybe it was 7:37)? Why not some normal time like 6 p.m. on the button?”  The experts say it’s all about timing for the mission and playing catch up to the ISS or other things in space. But on this night, about 15 minutes before the launch, the full moon rose over the ocean. The countdown ended, the flames roared, and the shuttled lifted over Florida right through the full moon. It was a piece of art. Those guys at NASA… they know what they are doing.

One side note. I was wearing a microphone that night. We were live. That was NOT a great idea. When you see something like that, up-close, for the first time all you say is “Wow… wow… WOW!” It doesn’ t make for good tv. Well, at least it didn’ t for me. I was very impressed, very short on words and very proud to be an American.

If you have never seen a launch up close, you need to hurry. The Shuttle program is set to end in 2010. Let’s hope some folks see one this evening.

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