NASA Launched the space shuttle Atlantis today. As everyone knows, this was a particularly momentus occasion as it is the first launch since the dreaded Columbia disaster in 2003. On top of that, the shuttle has been delayed a few times for various significant reasons.
You can watch video of the launch at NASA's site if you didn't get to see it on TV somewhere. What's more, you can watch live and recorded video of mission events and communication and such on NASA TV.
I confess I am mesmerized by the workings at Mission Control. Often during the video segments there are moments where nobody says anything, and we witness what seems to be little more than folks standing at a desk looking at screens and doing important stuff like breathing. But
I guess I'm so in love with this operation that it doesn't matter to me if they're landing or sleeping, I still think it's cool.
The six-member Atlantis crew will be out there for 11 days. Doesn't seem like much time until you consider that this is longer than most of us get to vacation this year. It would be difficult enough for me to be away from my wife and kids for that long, not to mention doing it while weightless. After all, it's not as though they get to take breaks in between sessions and head to the lounge or the pool.
However, I suppose it can't be all bad. They do get to eat all that cool astronaut ice cream, right?
If you want to know what they're going to do out there and why, and how it's going and all of that, I highly recommend stopping at the Shuttle Section of the NASA web site. They've done a great job getting lots of fantastic information and media into that site. Everything you could imagine wanting to know or hear or see about the shuttle missions is there.