I read today that Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, died at the age of 61. I was in college at the University of Florida when she blasted off in June of 1983 and decided to drive down to Cape Canaveral to see the launch.
The launch was very early in the morning, and so I had to leave Gainesville, FL in the middle of the night. I took my dog and a six pack of beer. Given I can only drink two beers max, I am not sure what I was thinking, maybe I thought I’d share.
When you drive to see a launch, you park across this body of water with all these other people doing the same thing. Everyone has their radio station tuned to the same channel where they are broadcasting mission control and the eventual countdown.
I quickly realized that given there were no restrooms anywhere and I was surrounded by other people and their cars, the beer was a bad idea.
Finally launch time came, and you could hear all the car radios blaring the identical sound of mission control and the countdown. Then smoke starts coming from under the space shuttle and you feel, and I mean literally feel, under your feet, the ground shaking and this incredible roaring sound, as you watch the shuttle slowly lift off, turn, and head into the sky. You watch until you can’t see anything else. And then you watch some more. It’s hard not to just keep staring at the sky and wondering what it’s like for them, what they’re doing up there.
It meant a lot to me to be personally present to watch the first American woman blast off into space. I had wanted to be an astronaut but really didn’t do well in my aerospace classes and I get motion sick easily – not the best candidate.Â So it was with pride and envy that I watched Sally Ride blast off into space.
Rest amongst the stars Sally. I will never forget that day.Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.