Friday, September 21, 2012

ENDeavor Forever

This sign is missing the "eavor"....'Twas a poignant end to an era today as a huge crowd gathered just across the arroyo from JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena).  We saw all the proud scientists and JPL workers out on their roofs and decks.  How proud they must have been.

Then it started to get slightly hilarious.  Several false alarms in the crowd "I SEEEEEE IT!"  Hundreds of us would then strain our eyes to see what that person saw.  Then when the crowd was at its most peaceful, nearly serene even in the nearly 100 degree heat, all of us dripping with sweat, a toddler screamed and pointed up into the face of the nearby mountain:  "Thewe it is!  It's wight thewe!!!!!!"  

Moments after the ensuing laughter in response to that perfectly delivered toddler wisdom died down, we resumed staring west toward the mountains behind JPL, because it's last "stop," aka fly-over, was Griffith Park, a point west of where we stood. 

Then, all of a sudden you heard a ripple of screams that sounded like fear.  We all whipped around to face the OPPOSITE direction.  As we turned I think we all became conscious of that inimitable deep roar of the engines.  Then suddenly there it was -- right over our heads!  It was so low it felt like we could almost touch it.  We saw the bulging belly of the plane and the little flipper-like wing tips of the Endeavor peaking out over the top of big 747.   It looked like a momma dolphin was taking it's baby dolphin for a test swim:  "This is how it's done, my dear."

We all screamed because of the element of surprise, but I will admit I was slightly terrified for a half a second.  My first thought was danger because it was coming from the "wrong" direction, the roar was so ominous and unexpected, and the screams sounded just like a horror movie.  Then upon seeing the big white steel monolith, the magic struck all of our hearts all at once.  It was quite moving. 

It circled around and climbed much, much higher.  We couldn't see it for several long seconds, though we heard it still, and that's when my camera finally started working.  I think very few got that first shot of it right over our heads because we were all so stunned.

This is it coming back around, after it climbed quite a bit to go overhead toward JPL:

And here they are, not momma and baby, but really, a great wise old grandmother, being gently escorted by a virile young buck to her elegant retirement museum home:

They say God abhors a vaccum....that one door closes, another opens.  What new space magic comes, I wonder....

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