During my internship I was really fortunate to be able to see the Space Shuttle after it landed at Edwards Air Force Base. It was over Memorial Day weekend when the weather in Florida would be too dangerous for a shuttle landing, and NASA couldn’t delay the landing any longer.
Unfortunately I didn’t actually get to see it land, because I had gone home to see my family for the long weekend, but I heard that wasn’t nearly as exciting as watching it take off again. My friends who got to see it land said that they could see the shuttle just after they heard it’s double sonic boom and that it basically fell out of the sky like a brick.
When the shuttle lands they keep it at the Dryden Flight Research Center for about a week to get all of the excess fuels and chemicals out of it and to prepare it to piggy back on the back of the 747. This is part of what makes it such an expensive alternative to landing in Florida. NASA has to send specialists out to Dryden from other NASA centers to aid in the shuttle preparations.
While it was there I had the opportunity to go up and look at it (not too close of course), and it was so awe-inspiring. I’m a space girl at heart, and looking at the shuttle right in front of me, I couldn’t help but reminisce about having childhood daydreams of seeing such a thing in person, and to realize that here I am, at 20 years old working for NASA. I’d been working towards this dream for years, and step by step, my dreams are coming true.
When they finally started rolling the 747 and shuttle away from the Mate Demate Device, the excitement was palpable. I was also very fortunate to run into the right people at the right time to secure a spot over by where the press stands to report on the shuttle and 747 taking off. It was awesome!