Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Watching rockets fly from afar

Building for future wonder
Cocoa Beach, FL
December 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
Tomorrow, just under 9 years since the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on her final flight, @SpaceX is scheduled to launch a Crew Dragon capsule atop a #Falcon9 rocket.

It's always a big deal when humans leave the planet, of course. But it's an especially big deal when it's on a brand new spaceship, when it marks the return of American rockets launching American astronauts from American soil - instead of buying seats on Soyuz capsules.

We visited Cocoa Beach in December - when the world seemed so different than it does now - and I spent some quiet alone time in the sand, looking north, to the place way across the water where rockets fly.

I know I'm not the only one who makes wishes these days. My wish now is the same as it was on the last morning of 2019, as the rising sun slowly warmed the sand on my bare feet: That we always remain capable of feeling wonder, that we always strive for more, that we never lose hope.

The DM-2 mission will be flown by Doug Hurley (spacecraft commander) and Bob Behnken (joint operations commander). Both were shuttle astronauts, and Hurley piloted Atlantis's penultimate STS-135 mission. When they come back is anybody's guess: They'll remain docked to the ISS for between 1 and 4 months, depending on how Crew Dragon's solar cell array performs on orbit.

I could probably ramble about this all day, so thank you for your indulgence. If the weather cooperates, tomorrow promises to be another day that imprints itself on our souls. We'll remember where we were, what we were doing, how we felt.

Historically significant days tend to play out like that. We're lucky to be around to witness them.

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