6 High school girls from Girl Scouts of Northern California were chosen to attend the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. Each of these girls has a special interest in science and technology. Follow the girls as they spend 8 days exploring Florida's Space Coast.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shuttle Launch, Part II

Yesterday the shuttle launch was really cool even if it was about 41 degrees. Because it was something that I’ve never in my life thought I would see. It was like an explosion of bright light and a soon you would think it was day. The vibrations that it made was awesome it was like you where sitting on a dryer and it was going 20mph.

Later on that day we went back to Kennedy space center and saw two really great 3D movies about space and all the astronauts that have been there and all the had and dangerous jobs you have to do.Today we went to an arcade and played laser tag and that was pretty cool even if it did get hot and I was wearing a whit shirt and everybody could see me. The best part of today for me was the tickets because I won two-handed seventy. So that’s pretty much everything that happened these two days and I can’t wait to come home and tell all my family and friends about this.


Launch, Part II

Early Monday morning (way too early than what should be necessary) the six girls from Girl Scouts Nor Cal witnessed an amazing thing, the successful launch of STS-130 Endeavour. As one of the people who saw this I personally thought it was amazing. The best way I can describe it is fireworks times about 50. The brightness caused by the ignition was as bright as day. I was shocked at how bright it became also how long the noise and brightness lasted. Stephanie got a video of the initial liftoff and it’s ascent off of the launch pad. I didn’t know anything man-made could cause such a breath-taking sight. After some sleep when we got back to the hotel, we went back to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center. We watched two Imax movies about space, of course. Also, bought basically matching sweatshirts and a woman, one of Wendy’s compadres, gave us free stuff. :D Yay, free stuff.

Today we went to an arcade, because we can’t be too much learn and no play, and played multiple games of laser tag. It was very cool. Never play laser tag with Heather, she’s really sneaky. Now I’m sitting here typing up this blog and Heather may kick me out soon because she wants to sleep. I think I’ll do the same. Thank you for reading!!! And to my family and friends: I’LL BE HOME SOON!!!! I MISS YOU GUYS TOO!!!!!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Launch, Part II

Boy, this whole launch business has gotten me on the weirdest sleep schedule. On Sunday night before the launch I went to sleep around 12, probably, and got up and hour later so we could drive to the launch. At first I was in a bit of a bad mood because I was tired and hungry and especially because I was cold, and on top of that I was worried the shuttle wouldn’t go again, which would be a big disappointment. But I sat it out, listening to my iPod for about 2 hours. One of the best parts was during the last hold, at 9 minutes (it was 45 minutes long. It is so hard to sit there and watch the countdown clock read 9:00 for 45 minutes!) I was stressing they were going to say it was a no go, which is what they did last time. But after the countdown started again (T minus 9 minutes and counting…) I started to get very, very excited. It kinda hit me that the shuttle, three miles away, contained people in it that were really going into outer space. It seemed sort of… surreal? Is that the right word? It’s like I was in a dream, I wasn’t really about to watch this incredible thing happen. Something most people never get to see, I was watching at only 15 years old. The clock got closer and closer to 0, and I got more excited. Everyone was standing in the bleachers, either holding their breath or counting down the seconds to when it would go off. When the rockets started, they lit up the sky. It was like the sun was rising behind the shuttle, and tons and tons of smoke started to billow out around it as the shuttle lifted off. At that moment my mind was blank, utterly blank, just taking in that incredible sight. One thing that struck me was that as it was shooting into the air (not actually going as fast as one might think…) was how crooked its path was. I guess it makes sense now, but it struck me as odd at the time. That was the first thing I really thought. The second thing was “Whoa!” when the sound waves came rippling over everyone. I could feel them more in my chest than in my ears, and it even felt a little harder to breathe. We stood there watching as it soared into the sky (I think we were nearly blinded though, that fire was sooo bright!) and eventually faded into a little dot. But we kept our eyes on that dot until it passed under the horizon, and after that I stood there in shock for a little while. That was one thing I can never properly describe or ever forget.


Launch, Part II

We all got up very late. We finally got everyone awake and ready to leave at 1:30 pm. We then went out to brunch at this cute little café. The food was very good. After that we stopped of at Publix and stocked up on snacks to eat during the Super Bowl. We returned to our hotel and rested for a few hours. Then we watched the exciting Super Bowl game. I finally learned the rules of football, so the game was much more interesting than it would have been. Once it was finally done at 9:30, we all went to bed to get a few hours sleep before we had to get up again. At 1 am, we woke up and loaded into the buses to go to Kennedy Space Center yet again. As we drove in there was a low and heavy cloud cover, but we kept an optimistic out look. We arrived at 1:45, and waited around listing for the weather report. The weather gave up, and when the forty-five minute hold at T-9 minutes ended, we all got very excited. At about T-5 minutes, someone sang the national anthem. Finally at 4:14 AM or at T-0 minutes, the rocket boosters ignited, and the dark night sky was light up. We watch in amazement as the shuttle went higher and higher in the sky. Eventually the sound waves got to us and rattled the bleachers. I could feel the vibrations through my feet. Eventually the brightness from the shuttle faded away, and the shuttle soon just became a small dot in the sky. It didn’t look much different from some of the other stars in the sky. We stood there in the bleachers until we couldn’t see it anymore. We loaded back onto the bus and returned back to the hotel.

- Violet

Launch, Part II

I think that the shuttle launch is quite possibly the most exhilarating moment of my life so far. It was made even better by the fact that we were even more expectant than we were the night before that. With the first scrub and the long drive home after it, I think I'm speaking for more people than myself that it was a bit disappointing to hear "We are a no-go for the weather."

But, the stars (and clouds) aligned just right and we got the bird into the sky reeealy early this morning. Earlier than should be humanly possible to be awake. Yet somehow I was awake; I think it was the adrenaline. The rush was certainly big.

So now on to the actual event. We got to T-9 minutes, at the end of the longest 45-minute hold in my life, and finally the clock started again. No more built-in holds, and no more holds that we ended up experiencing either. I turned on the video camera, let it run. Got to T-10 seconds, and everyone started counting down. At T-6.6 seconds (got that from a ride we did with info about the launch) the main engines ignited. I saw a bit of a glowy thing, and then the shuttle turned into a big, bright star and I mean that literally. It was almost twice its height above the launch pad, spewing out thick white smoke and steam, when the sound hit us.

The noise of a launching shuttle is a rather loud and percussive mix of fireworks, Rice Crispies, a low bass rumble like thunder, and a shock wave that rattles your rib cage. There's really no good way to describe it aside from the most awesome, painfully loud, and truly EPIC sound you have ever heard. The sound faded later on, as the shuttle gained altitude, and it looked like the reverse of a shooting star.

I could have sworn that the shuttle would pierce the cloud cover multiple times, but I guess that clouds are higher than I thought. Finally we lost sight of it, and a few minutes later someone pointed out to me the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) as they fell after disconnecting from the shuttle. At that point we meandered towards our bus (took us a couple tries to find it amongst the sea of charter buses just like in marching band) and snoozed all the way back to the hotel.

I don't remember the night/morning before I went to bed, but I do remember thinking it would probably be better to write the post while the shuttle was still fresh in my mind, and then realizing that I didn't have the mental capacity to type very well. This morning.... well, dang, guess it's the afternoon, now, since I got up at about 12:30 PM... I woke up with my head feeling kinda scummy and spongy, but it's worth it. The shuttle launch is a once-in a lifetime experience that is one that I will remember for the rest of my life, especially since it's the last night launch for a space shuttle.

- Stephanie

Launch, Part II

After the delay of the Sunday morning launch, it was a long drive back to the hotel. I was so tired when we got home at around 5 a.m., I fell into bed with all my clothes on and was asleep in minutes. We all slept in until around noon and went to "breakfast" at a tasty little bakery at around one. After eating a yummy brunch, we all went to the grocery store to stock up on some food for our Super Bowl party! About half of us watched the Saints win an awesome victory while everyone else caught up on some sleep and homework. Once the game ended, I went off to bed and only got about an hour of sleep until we had to wake up at 1 a.m. to catch the bus. We arrived with about two hours till launch and sat on the cold hard bleachers, half asleep and anxious to see if the weather would be kind to us. After sitting through the 20 minute hold and about 30 minutes of the 9 minute hold, the control room went through its pre-flight checks and the weather was cleared for Kennedy Space Center and all of the emergency landing sites. The shuttle was cleared for take off and the crowd that was gathered in and around the bleachers cheered. At T-4 minutes, the crowd stood as a NASA employee sang the national anthem. At T-1 minute, the lights were dimmed and everyone was standing with anticipation. At T-10 seconds we all counted down with the clock and watched in awe as the shuttle lifted off the pad and lit up the entire sky. Not long after the sound crashed into us and shook the stands. We watched the shuttle go from being a second sun into a tiny star-like dot and continued to stare until the shuttle had been in the sky for ten minutes. On the bus ride home, everyone fell asleep after all the excitement and once again fell into bed once we got back to the hotel. It was a long, cold and tiring two days, but it was all very worth it as we watched the shuttle soar into space.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Launch

Yesterday we went on a exciting tour of Kennedy Space Center. We had to be on the bus at 7:15, and then we were off to the space center. When we first got at there, we had a meeting where everybody on the tour introduced themselves, and we leaned a bit about the International Space Station. Then we got back on the bus, and an astronaut joined us. We next went to ISS training facility where they had mock up modules of the ones on the ISS that we could walk through. The next place we went was the VAB. It is the second largest building in the world in terms of volume. This building is where they put together the space shuttle. Then we went to the launch site to see the Endeavour. We were very close and had a great view of it. After that, we got to go to the Kennedy Visitor Center and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. After the long day, we got to go back to our hotel. Kjersti and I decided to go to bed, while everyone else stayed up. Eventually most people went to bed and got some sleep. At 1 AM we all were up and ready to go in our many layers and blankets. We got on the bus and went back to the space center. We got there at around 1:45 and reserved some seats on the bleachers. We waited around for launch time. It was very cold outside on the bleachers, and it was very crowded. The concern of weather started to arise. There were clouds drifting in above the space shuttle. The chance of good weather went down from 80% to 60% then to 30%, and then to code red for the weather or no go. Launch control kept debating on whether they should actually launch, until around 4:30 AM with 9 minutes to go they decided to scrub the launch for 24 hours. In other words, they postponed the launch until Monday morning. With a bit a disappointment, we went back to our hotel, and went straight back to sleep.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Today our group had a fun day at the Kennedy Space Center. We started out on a bus at 7:30 am and shipped off toward our destination with a large group of other VIPs. When we first arrived, we were all herded into a small auditorium and went around the room introducing ourselves and talking about why we were here. We then watched a short slideshow about the mission of STS-130 and heard about the experiments that would be on board.

Next, we piled back onto the buses and went to the ISS visitor center where we learned about the station and how it works. The next building we toured was the VAB(vehicle assembly building). This 36 story building can be seen from many miles away and was even more impressive in person. Here, we got to see the bell of a shuttle engine and the areas where the shuttle, SRBs and ET are all put together. We also caught a glimpse of the back up set of SRBs and ET that is ready to go incase of an emergency.

After touring the VAB, we hopped back on the bus and drove past the landing strip where the shuttle will glide to safety after its 13-day mission. Along the way to the Visitor’s Complex, we also saw a few alligators along the side of the road! Once we arrived at the Visitor’s Complex, we took a ride on the launch simulator and at lunch at the Orbit Café. Then we took a few minutes at the largest space store in the world and caught the bus to the Astronaut Hall of Fame. After a speedy run at the Hall, our tired group of girls came back to the hotel and ordered in pizza. It was a long, fun and educational day, but we can’t wait to see the launch tomorrow morning, bright and early!

- Maddie

So. Day three. So far we’ve spent hours in a plane, hours in an airport, hours in Disneyworld (OK, that wasn't so bad), and hours in our hotel rooms. I’ve got a “decent” amount of homework, which means more like a lot. Got a lot of it done, though.

Anyway. Yesterday in Disneyworld we had a lot of fun wandering around through EPCOT. I think the Japanese section was the best, mainly due to the fact that there was an EPIC taiko line there. Drumsdrumsdrumsdrums. They also had these little awesome crystal puzzles in the shop and I got one and it took a while to figure out that I was putting it together wrong but after that it was really fun :D

I think the best part of the Disneyworld trip so far would have to be the fact that they lit a whole freakin’ barge on fire. Like, not just little streams of fire coming out of it. The whole darned thing was flaming. We felt the heat from it, and it was halfway across the lake. It was awesome.

Fiery and awesome.

At the beginning of when we were in the park, we went on the Mission: Space ride and took the intense route. We’re not chickens, after all. It was outrageously fun, and now I know what it feels like to have your face pulled to smithereens by above-average Gs. I don’t know how they do that; I think it has something to do with spinning the assembly so that you experience artificial Gs. I remember in physics we were talking about centrifuges, and how centrifugal force doesn’t actually exist and instead you’re being forced into the wall by the fact that your body wants to move tangentially instead of circularly. Real-life application, I guess. Hah, I did learn something during this trip, Mr. Burns.

Oh, and for dinner we stopped at a restaurant in the UK (or at least the Disneyworld version of such) and had a very good meal there. Our waiter was one of the funniest I’ve ever had, and the food was pretty good, too. Well, ok, it also helped that Heather was paying. Heheh.


Friday, February 5, 2010

The Endeavour

We've spent the last couple of weeks keeping an eye on the launch schedule and the possibility that the launch might be postponed. Now that we are here we are even more anxious about the possibility that the launch might be scrubbed. Just after 1pm EST we found out that NASA managers have said that the "Super Shuttle" Sunday launch is a "Go." According to the press release the weather is 80% favorable for the launch.

You can follow NASA's launch information at the following NASA sites:

Disney World, Homework, and Planes! Oh my!!

As everyone who has read this so far knows, we had an agonizingly long flight from Oakland to Houston. My ears didn't pop until after I had fallen asleep and then they had the nerve to plug back up! I swear. You can't get good ears these days. It probably did not help that I had already been congested due to a slight cold that I had gotten a couple days earlier. Anywho, my ears still plug up and pop sporadically, it really is pretty frustrating. But onto the day after we arrived here in the sunshine state.

Yesterday we all had decided to go the Disney World resort. We spent all day in the Epcot park. It only had informational rides, which Wendy and Heather quizzed us on afterwards. (Of course.) Despite the quizzing and actual learning at one of the most massive theme parks on the east coast it was really fun. There was some really strange geography for the park. Mexico was next to Norway and Norway was followed by China. China of course was next to Germany, that does make a bit of sense. Kind of. I think Disney needs to refresh on their world geography. Although I did have a cold and, by the time, we got back to the hotel, a jammed ankle a day in Disney World is better than doing your homework.

Speaking of homework, that dreaded thing, is what we're doing today aside from walking down to the beach and sitting there for awhile. Most of the girls dove right into their work to get it over with. I, on the other hand, need to use the internet to get some assignments. Besides I do work better at night anyway :] I'm avoiding doing my work as I type. Thank you blogs!!! My head is killing me every time I sneeze or blow my nose, which is alot. My cold has steadily been getting worse. It's pretty annoying. Especially paired with the pain in my left ankle. Man, I am just the disaster kid on this trip. I hope I can go the rest of this trip without getting seriously sick and/or injured. Knock on wood. Ha ha. This blog has turned into an essay practically. Although my English teacher would have my hide for all of the personal pronouns and the contractions scattered throughout. Well I probably should wrap up this blog. Thank you for reading! Bye.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fun Day

One of the important parts of this trip is to teach the girls to plan their own travel. During the pre-trip meetings girls selected other activities that they want to participate in while in Florida. Their choice for today? Check back tonight for pictures and reports!

Travel to Florida

Yesterday, after a solid day of travel from Oakland, 6 girls and 2 adults arrived in Cocoa Beach, Florida for the launch. Overall, the travel went well. The girls spent most of the time on the plane doing homework and sleeping. The only hitch was when the rental car place tried to give us a smaller car than we requested. Maybe they just didn't understand that 6 girls + 2 adults + luggage = needing the car we reserved, not a smaller one. After waiting over 1.5 hour for our car, we headed out to Cocoa Beach.

The Trip

Late last year the W Foundation approached Girl Scouts of Northern California with an offer to help arrange a trip for girls to see the launch of the shuttle Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The W Foundation has worked with NASA to offer this opportunity to kids throughout the past several years. Through the hard work of Mark Annis with the W Foundation, Wendy Holforty with NASA, and Heather Vilhauer with Girl Scouts the trip was planned and six girls from throughout Girl Scouts of Northern California were selected to attend. The girls attended two pre-launch meetings before the trip began to get to know each other, to learn more about NASA, and to plan the logistics of the trip. After the trip the girls will be preparing a video about the launch to show to Girl Scout groups about their experience.