I saw the space shuttle Endeavor fly by my house this morning. Actually, it wasn’t flying itself. It was on the back of a very large plane. I could tell that plane was very large because it was so much larger than its military jet escort. Even though seeing a shuttle being carried rather than flying itself might seem somehow “less than,” it was not. It is not every day you see an airplane carrying a sizable object which also happens to be a recognizable object and one which you recognize as something that has been in space. And those things are going by your window in a very fast and loud manner. It was impressive. Afterward I saw the entourage winding around my familiar Bay Area sky, much farther away. It was still amazing. It was also beautiful.
As you may know Endeavor was on its way to Los Angeles where it will become a museum piece at the California Science Center. Here’s a Seattle PI summary article with stellar photos from the Associated Press. Here’s a San Francisco Chronicle article with the excited Bay Area perspective.
My perspective was that I was on the phone with my Mom, also at home a few miles south of me in Berkeley. We were scanning the sky and sharing information that I was gathering from the internet, and she was gathering from my Dad who was checking the television. We had the fun realization that we could see the same planes. Eventually we learned the shuttle had passed over the Oakland Hills so we knew to look towards the south. We scanned more. I was starting to suspect that we had missed that which turned out be un-missable in the misty fog hanging over the bay…when…there was my mother’s excited voice telling me the shuttle was flying right over her house, and then telling me it was heading north towards me. Again there was a pause long enough to wonder if I’d missed it…when…first I heard the loud noise, and then there it was, right over a familiar tree-lined hill and coming towards my back yard. It was at that moment it occurred to me that a photo for my husband and son would be nice. I grabbed the thankfully nearby camera, snapped a photo, saw the shuttle and planes right outside my window, and then saw them fly past my neighbor’s roof.
Though I’m interested in space, it’s a minor interest. I’m not a person who has made a trek to see the shuttle before. Even this morning I didn’t bother to leave my own dining room. So I am amazed how exciting this was. Hours later, I’m still hyped up. I’m starting to think it was the enormous convergence of miraculousness that’s put me in this state—the ability of large things to fly at all, the ability that they can also fly from our Earth into space, the idea that I can see these things from my home, the reality that my mother can see something in the sky and tell me it’s coming my way via a small device and then it does, the every day beauty outside my window mixed with this unusual thing, and the notion that I was one of multitudes witnessing this. It’s all thrilling.