25 Aug 2009

A Personal Thank You to Mr. McDonald

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August 25, 2009

Dear Mr. McDonald,

At the moment of this writing I am watching a live stream on the web of the pre-launch activities for STS-128 Discovery.  We are on the 9 minute hold and it has just started raining, now heavily. The shuttle is red for lightning and other flight constraints.  I do wonder if you are watching the launch and if you continue to watch every launch regardless of the time of day. That is a very comforting thought as I have just completed your book.

There are many thoughts that go through my mind while watching this and all other launches, revisiting them on YouTube and other locations on the Web.

Watching the launches I think of…

…building radio control airplanes

…launching rockets with Estes motors (miniature versions of your SRMs!) with my dad, deciding one day that the motor was a launch vehicle in itself and did not require anything more than fins glued to it from one of my rocket kits (spectacular results)

…the thrill of anticipation that is immeasurably human and the absolute reason that is not based in math that requires us to send humans to space

…and so much more

…and I think about the man or woman that has replaced you and is sitting in your old seat waiting for the request for go for launch; and all the thousands that have come before you and hopefully will come after you that support this incredible, inspiring, wonderful effort.

I troll back through a lifetime of memories (I am 40 years of age) that involved the shuttle and the love of engineering that is associated with it and I smile. Every. Single. Time. It is and remains the central coat hook upon which my curiosity hat is hung.

For all of this and the teams of people you managed and their hearts and the peoples of the world that beat faster every time the launch countdown reaches zero, and for the thousands, if not millions who you and others have inspired, and for you for telling the truth in the face of lies I wanted to personally thank you.

It is difficult to be a good man.

Thank you for being such a man and for the priceless inspiration you have helped bring to my life, mostly without me even knowing of your involvement until now.

Kipling was correct.

Best Regards,

Jed Freeman

P.S.  The launch is now almost all green, with the exception of red for anvil clouds. It is coming down to the wire!

Update: The wire has been reached and the shuttle is a no go for launch tonight, but that means it is safe.  I can’t wait for tomorrow!

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