This morning the sky was clear and temperature perfectly nice and warm. Let’s just say something felt right about today when a huge Kennedy Space Center (KSC) bus arrived in our hotel. The journey took a while before entering KSC in Cape Canaveral and we proceeded towards our final destination the OSB II Building just opposite the Vehicle Assembly Building painted with a huge NASA logo and an American flag.
The crowd assembled at the conference room for a launch presentation. There was excitement in the air when everybody adjourned to the viewing deck just outside located on the 5th floor of the building. The who’s who of space explorers were there from the legendary Buzz Aldrin to Sergei Krikalev the world famous cosmonaut. In addition, Marcos Pontes the Brazilian astronaut, Jose Hernandez the Mexican astronaut and not forgetting our very own Angkasawan Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar and many other astronauts were present.
There was a buzz in the air as people waited for the final launch of shuttle Atlantis. The countdown began and everyone shouted along 10, 9, 8… when in a distance we could see smoke coming out of the main engines. The ground was rumbling and the space shuttle took off producing a flash of light so bright, it blinded me for a second as I quickly grabbed my sunglasses to cut the blazing glare. I tracked Atlantis mid air, this time roaring through the sky with a deafening noise leaving behind a huge plume of smoke. I was in awe just watching it climb further into the atmosphere and just like that…it was gone, blasting off into space. Oh what a rush, catching it live right before my eyes!!! Jubilation filled the air and everyone clapped and congratulated each other. Replays of the launch was played over and over again on all the video screens in OSB II, recapturing the historic moment.
Inside, corn bread and beans were served as a tradition following a successful launch and indeed it was. I wished everyone was here with me to witness it. It was reported that more than 300,000 people jammed the launch area (double of the usual amount) to experience the thrill of watching a space shuttle launch as there remains only 2 launches left. Do enjoy this video and until next time ‘Reach for the skies!!!’…Faiz