It was great out at Promontory, Utah.* We got up super early, and because of that we were on the front line. Of course, even getting up super early, there were still about a hundred people already there.
They had an area where you could get a special pen, some coloring books, a tattoo that says ‘Fly me to Mars’ (It’s surprisingly hard to put on a temporary tattoo just using your fingers, but I couldn’t wait.), and a few paper projects to make your own paper Orion with SLS boosters. I, personally, think it was really rude that they wouldn’t give me the really cool plastic professional model they had out there. I mean, it is my birthday.
I got to meet Don Thomas. He was really nice, and talked to me about what to expect with the test. And he took a picture with me that you see above. I think the frame was meant more for children, but we’re all children at heart. Because of how early it was, there was not anyone waiting to talk to him, and so I got to spend time talking to him.
My mom told him about my thesis about Challenger. He told me about how he was on a mission where they re-released a satellite that had been lost with the crew. He also mentioned how important it was to improving safety. This is especially evident with this test: they were ensuring that the boosters could withstand cold temperature.
We then waited for three hours, an hour longer due to technical computer problems. There was a huge screen with NASA TV on it and they told us what was going on. At 8:00 am they started to do the countdown on the big clock that we were able to watch. Because of the clock we got to know a bit earlier than NASA TV when the test would happen.
The countdown hit ten minutes, the engineers began to do their ‘go’ countdown. I got up and went to the edge of where we were allowed to. I recorded a video of what I saw for the Odeck.+ What was really amazing was how you saw the explosion first and then the soundwaves came a few seconds later. The earth shook and, this may have been all in my head, I swear it was hotter during the test.
*Not including family drama.
+While recording a hare jumped out of the sage brush and looked at me with ‘WHAT IS GOING ON?!’ eyes. I did not record this part, as I kept my phone pointed at the test.