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.