So, two very successful space missions this week, one close to home and perhaps a bit more relevant for us a geocachers, and about as far from home as humans have explored (independent of Hubble Space telescope viewing).
I encourage all of you to think a little bit about these two events. I remember as a kid as we watched with awe as each of the Apollo missions went up, and I think most everyone in the world stopped what they were doing and watched when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. That too was in July, 46 years ago.
Now I think a lot of us take space exploration for granted, and there are two new generations since then for whom this has been the norm.
I was fortunate enough this week to be on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for work, and I will tell you that down there on the "Space Coast" in Florida, most everyone still stops what they are doing and takes notice when there is a launch. Our team, consisting of multiple folks from multiple organizations, ceased working at about 1100, and by 1125, we were all out on a launch site that was not in use at Cape Canaveral, about eight kilometers south of the launch pad where an Atlas V rocket was prepared to boost the latex GPS satellite into space. At 1136, we saw a bright light come up from the horizon, and a few seconds later we heard the load and ongoing rumble that is the hallmark of the controlled explosion that we call rocketry. Hundreds of people all around us were manning multiple telemetry radars, weather radars, mission control and various other facilities in support of the launch. It was not long before the rocket's bright point of light disappeared into the clouds, and in fact, within 5 minutes, it was 10 miles high, a dropping its first stage boosters. While I am not sure when this particular satellite will come on line, It did occur to me that somewhere in the world, within a few days, someone would be looking at their GPSr or phone, depending on this satellite, among a couple of dozen others, to determine ground zero and find some sort of geocache.
I shot a short video of the launch, it is not very good, and is about 166MB, but I'd be happy to share it with any of you who'd like to see it. I'd encourage you all, however, to go to this link and enjoy a much better video of the launch by professionals, and with video from the rocket looking down as well:http://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/gps-satellite-launching-into-space/
I don't know about the rest of you, but one of the things I really love about geocaching is that sense of wonder and amazement that I have that we have built a system that allows any of us to return to a spot that someone else has recorded and led us to. It does not really matter what we find there, it could be a view, the end of a multi, an earth cache, a nano or a piece of tupperware, or even the final of a puzzle cache. The fact that we have created with this GPS system the ability to to bring each other to a shared point of interest never ceases to fill me with awe and amazement. This stuff is just really cool!