Sometimes, life is a blast.
For Santa Clarita resident Dorraine Petras it was a blast off!
Petras, Curriculum Specialist in science for Stevenson Ranch Elementary, stood in the pre-dawn darkness only a few miles away from Cape Canaveral to watch the launch of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket with its Dragon capsule payload this morning.
(Photos courtesy of Dorraine Petras)
“It’s been an incredible ride and it’s truly been, pun intended, a blast,” said Petras.
NASA Mission Control described the 3:44 a.m. Eastern time launch:
“Three, two, one, zero, and launch of the Space X Falcon 9 Rocket as NASA turns to the private sector to re-supply the International Space Station.”
Petras was one of 50 people selected by NASA out of 1,600 entries nationwide invited to watch the launch of the Dragaon spacecraft on its ambitious mission to dock with the International Space Station and return to Earth.
Positioned near the countdown clock, Petras described the feeling of watching the launch.
“You see it happen first, and then you hear the sound, and you get that, you feel that rumble, and it’s really an incredible experience,” said Petras.
For Petras Tuesday’s launch was also an emotional experience.
“As a little girl growing up in Houston my father worked at the Johnson Space Center. He was really so proud of the space program – and I get choked up every time I talk about it — he was very proud and so I feel a connection to him since he’s no longer with us,” said Petras.
Keeping with the theme of a space-y family, Petras’ husband works for Space X (officially known as Space Exploration Technologies) out of Hawthorne in avionics software industry.
(Photo: Petras on right with Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President)
Petras texted him congratulations from the launch viewing site.
“He’s so thrilled. But his part comes into play when the Dragon docks or berths with the space station because much of the software, communications software between the two, the Dragon capsule and the space station he has written,” said Petras.
The Dragon capsule does not have a crew, but is carrying about 1,200 pounds of cargo that the astronauts and cosmonauts living on the station will be able to use. Since the demise of the Space Shuttle program NASA has been giving seed money to commercial enterprises to serve the same function.
On her visit to Florida, Petras has been struck by how hard the space industry communities of Titusville and Merritt Island have been hit by the end of the space program. She said many businesses are boarded up and the economy is depressed.
“It’s really a shame interest has dropped in the space program. Whatever we can do to help regain that interest, because it is really, truly part of our future, America’s future, to get this going again,” said Petras.
Petras has many exciting stories to tell her students back at Stevenson Ranch Elementary, but she hopes the Space X launch will inspire adults as well.
“It’s going to be the way of the future whether we like it or not. So we need to be a part of it and America needs to be the front runners,” said Petras.
See more photos from Petras’ Facebook page by clicking here.