On July 17, OSCAR’s Dr. Matt Bobrowsky and student Keturah Braithwaite travelled to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to witness the launch of a rocket carrying supplies
to the International Space Station.
The two-stage rocket also carried some experiments created by students (including one experiment from a DSU student team). Bobrowsky had seen a rocket launch before, but this one was unusual in that it was only the second time that, after the first stage separated a few minutes into flight, the first stage engines continued to fire to bring it down to a soft landing on the ground somewhat south of the launch pad. Bobrowsky remarks, “That was an amazing spectacle, as the fiery rocket engines were vividly scintillating against the nighttime sky. The landing was also an important step for bringing down the costs of future spaceflights.”
The two also toured KSC, seeing sites like the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (so large that it has its own weather inside) and various launch pads. One of the launch pads they saw was Pad 39A — the one from which the Saturn V rocket was launched, carrying humans to the moon for the first time.
Also at KSC are memorials to various astronauts who died during spaceflight (or during preparations for spaceflight). Bobrowsky points out that those men and women did not die in vain. “We have
learned from the mistakes and built upon their
achievements. The U.S. space program provides lessons for all of us, one being that while we will inevitably experience setbacks, some very tragic, we can — and must — keep pushing forward and upward. That achievement 47 years ago of humanity first setting foot on another world shows how much we are capable of doing if we are sufficiently determined.”