A lot has changed since Kennedy was president. To think he never had the chance to slurp down a Starbucks non-fat latte while chattering on a 3G cell phone connection and streaming YouTube videos over WiFi is a shame. He may have helped us get to the Moon, but the idea that a human being can strap themselves to more fuel than some small countries have in reserve, and then launch beyond the confines of our atmosphere is, well, maybe not as exciting as American Idol or Michael Jackson’s drug addiction? We’ve been there done that, right?
When I rolled into Cocoa Beach Friday night on a mission to surf Tropical Danny, I observed hoards of people gathered on the causeway, and a brilliant white light beaming towards the sky over Cape Canaveral. Just a couple of subtle clues that something interesting was about to go down; or up if you want to get technical about it. I later confirmed that the Space Shuttle Discovery was scheduled to launch at 11:59pm that very night.
After settling in to my hotel room, I made my way down to the beach to see what all the fuss was about. A quick check of NASA’s Twitter account let me know there were no delays, and sure enough, just before midnight I observed a bright yellow flash on the horizon. Shuttle Discovery then lit up the night sky like a fire ball. You should see my hydrogen fuel tan, it’s fabulous.
The fact is this was no firework display or pop news that wastes brain space. It was human innovation incarnate, and I was both awed and humbled by it. As the team of astronauts arced their way out of our atmosphere at a chill speed of 17,500 miles per hour, I couldn’t help but ask myself – So, what have you done lately?