The year was 2006. The month, July. My son Jeremy, my sister Michelle, and I packed up a picnic lunch and headed to Cocoa Beach to watch the space shuttle Discovery launch on its journey toward the International Space Station. The third of July was a hot day like any other. We clocked it being around 114° F during one point.
The funny story I was going to tell you today was about how we waited forever to see the shuttle launch, and there were no public restrooms anywhere on the crowded causeway. So we all ended up taking turns in the backseat using the container that had held our potato salad as a urinal! But when I told my sister that I was going to share that, she vetoed me and insisted that I tell you about what happened the next day instead.
Being professional photographers, of course we had tons of photo equipment, but at that point, it was all still film. A couple of months prior, we were forced to stop photographing at a Bon Jovi concert because we had “professional cameras,” and only “point and shoots” were allowed. So we ventured into the digital photography world and purchased our first digital cameras which were also capable of taking video.
The July 3 launch was scrubbed, so we went back the following day. This would be the first time ever that the United States had an Independence Day launch. Michelle, being a history major, was especially pleased to be witnessing this bit of history making in the progress.
We decided that I would photograph the launch, and Michelle would videotape it using our new digital cameras. Well, of course, being a professional photographer, she knew that when taking still shots, you can rotate the camera to either take landscape (horizontal) formats or portrait (vertical) formats. But what she forgot is that with video recording devices (back then anyway before cell phones were capable of recording digital video), you had to hold the camera horizontally because there was no way to rotate the picture and it will be forever viewed sideways!
So, sure enough, when we got home, excited about seeing the launch, we put my photos and Michelle’s video on the computer and viewed them. Sadly, when we realized her video was sideways, it looked as if the astronauts had crashed right into the ground! YIKES! So, Australia, if you folks see what looks like a shuttle sticking up out of the ground… it probably is!
Talk to me: Have you ever witnessed a shuttle launch? Have you ever heard the sonic boom it makes when it enters back into the atmosphere? If cost weren’t a factor, would you ride on a private passenger space shuttle and go into space for a few days?