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Fran O'Rourke and her students see the Pathfinder launch!

Hello everyone and happy Holidays,

Well, we are back to Earth, after no sleep and a breathtaking view of the launch. Because of the delays, there was very little sleep on the trip. Then having students along, we had to do Disney World, Epcot, etc., so it has taken me a while to catch up.

The launch was unreal. Ken Edgett is right-- do try and attend one. We were treated like Kings and Queens. The tour of Kennedy Space Center was great. We got to go on the space shuttle runway, to the launch pad, and see many behind-the-scenes things. Of course, many scientists and engineers were there to help with explanations and talk to students.

Brian Cooper, the rover driver, spent the day at Disney World with my students. We all had great fun and learned about the new rover in the works. It is about the size of a Match Box car. Dr. Joy Crisp and her husband Dr. Dave Crisp have agreed to work on a children's book with my students. We sent it to publishers in January (it's cool).

Howard Eisen (rover designer) brought a mockup of the rover and pulled it out to play with the students. Great fun for everyone. Parents who attended were in awe, kids were so excited, and I will never forget the whole thing. Oh, we spent several evenings with Peter Smith, (IMP camera-lead) and got some inside news about what's next.

My students were treated as equals and learned so much. We went to the VIP viewing area the first night. It was actually north of the rocket. Then Brian, Ken and Peter walked us into Jetty Park. Much better, not to mention: that's where all the folks from JPL were. The rocket seemed to go over our heads. As I look at photos of when the rocket took off, it became so bright that my kids in class asked if it was daytime. Below is a newspaper article the kids wrote. Much more is being done in Arizona by a former student. As I get copies I'll post them as well.

Again, Happy Holidays all
Fran


Newspaper article written by students

To Infinity and Beyond

By:
Jenny, Katie, Lindsey & Maggie
5th graders in Ms. O'Rourke's Class
Cedar Wood Elementary

December 2nd was the official launch date of the Delta 2 rocket. It was delayed (scrubbed) due to a hurricane passing through Texas. It was going to hit Florida the same time as the rocket was to be launched.

December 3rd the launch was scrubbed again for difficulties on the ground computers. On the 4th it launched! This is our point of view of what happened on launch night:

It was pitch black and the only light at Jetty Park (where we viewed the launch) was the rusty orange moon, the shooting stars and the blue and white glowing rocket on the launchpad. Along with us, our teacher Fran O'Rourke and our parents at Jetty Park were Brian Cooper (the rover driver), Dr. Edgett (provides education for teachers), Dr. Joy Crisp (geologist), Dr. Dave Crisp (works with weather) and other scientists and engineers from NASA's JPL who were excitingly waiting for the launch.

Suddenly a blinding light and a booming sound filled Jetty Park while cheers filled the air as the Delta II curved and sailed towards the moon. Half way to the moon the rocket boosters were released and looked like sparkling stars as they fell from the Delta rocket. The rocket continued on and looked like it was going right over the middle of the moon as it tore through the atmosphere. All you could see was a bright dot fade into the darkness. The sight was too amazing to describe. When it was all said and done we all agreed it was an experience we will never forget.


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