What a Spectacular Launch!


Without a doubt, this was one of the most memorable days of my life!  We were positioned within an arm's reach of the crew as they left their sleeping quarters and again, a few hours later, as they walked by in their space suits to board their bus to the launch pad.  It was amazing to see their emotional goodbyes to their families.  We had lunch in the same dining room with the two cosmonauts' families, then boarded our own bus to the viewing site a mere 1.5 miles away from the launch pad.  We were there with the crew's families and several astronauts and cosmonauts.  This is the closest I've ever been for a launch, and it was stunning!  The weather was perfect - brisk and clear.  The ground certainly shook as the Soyuz clawed its way skyward on a 500-foot-long pillar of flame.  We could easily follow it for the first several minutes, and clearly saw the four strap-on boosters fall away about two minutes after liftoff.  Seeing the relief of the families when confirmation arrived that the Soyuz was safely in orbit brought home the human side of space exploration - these men may be heroes, but they are also husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers.  This day will not soon be forgotten by anyone who shared the experience with us here in Baikonour!  

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