Monday, September 26, 2005

SRB Test Firing

... or... What I did on my Summer Vacation Part I.
As we were driving through northern Utah, we saw the sign for the turn off to "Promintory Point" which is the location where the Golden Spike was driven at the completion of the Transcontinental railroad in 1869. We were in no great rush to get to Heber CIty, so we decided to take a little side-trip.

It's a desolate road -- dry land and alkalie flats and sagebrush. Partway there, we came to a place where maybe a hundred cars were parked along the sides of the road. I asked the first person I saw what was going on and she pointed over to the mountain (for the blog-impaired... click a picture to see a larger view of it):

"That set of building is part of the Thiokol complex... They are going to do a test-firing of a Shuttle EssAreBee ... That white cylinder on the right is one of the rockets like the two that are on the sides of the Space Shuttle. The large building on the left with the U.S. flag is the Assembly Plant where they put it together. It's going to fire in about 15 minutes!

Uh... uh....uh.... Cool!

We got out the camp chairs, and popped open some beverages and waited for the show to begin. It was more than 15 minutes, but we could hear a NASA-type voice in the distance saying something about "pre-programmed hold" and then there was a Countdown! 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1... then some sputtering flames and gouts of black smoke, then a TORRENT OF FLAME -- all in silence at first. Then after what seemed like a long time we heard what could have been fire crackers (it was that far way)Then there was an Tremendous EARSPLITTING ROOOOOOAR!!!!!
The smoke rose in a HUGE cloud... lit interally by THE FIRES OF HELL

The crowd cheered. It was truly awesome. The flames keep shooting out for almost three minutes. The sky filled with a GIGANTIC cloud of smoke. In a word: Spectacular.

What tickles me, perhaps more than anything: We were on the way to see a pair of steam locomotives from 140 years ago and purely by chance ended up ALSO seeing that most modern of all forms of transportation.

Hello Out There

I thought it might be fun to start one of these...