I mentioned on Twitter last week that the Columbia anniversary is something I take pretty personally, so I’m not going to attempt to make some happy-ooh-cool-space post like I typically do. Instead I’m sharing a picture I took of Columbia (STS-93) en route to a night landing in Florida, which I took from the rocket park at Johnson Space Center during my summer internship there. (Well, my internship was at LPI to be precise; we had access to JSC and used it whenever possible. Because we could. It was fun.)
ANYWAY we decided to watch the reentry at the rocket park because it was nice and dark, and in a fit of desperation, having stupidly forgotten my tripod I took this long exposure and somehow unconsciously tracked the shuttle’s path. DUMB. LUCK. It’s probably my favorite picture from that summer, especially given what happened on this day, seven years ago….
Earlier that summer, us interns went to the public welcome-back slideshow/ceremony for STS-96 at Space Center Houston. It was my first encounter with astronauts in Houston (it was just a week or two after we’d all arrived.) I seem to remember the rookies getting their pins, but I was in such an awed daze that it’s hard to say for sure. What I do remember was getting autographs after the presentation was over. Most of the crew looked tired, inured to the procedure; signing, a polite word or two, next please. All except one: a radiant young man, brimming with energy, asking each person’s name, writing a personalized message along with his signature, chatting with everyone in turn.
I don’t relate this to bag on anyone for not being astronaut-y enough; I’m sure dealing with the public is exhausting even under the best of circumstances. It’s just that this man shone out in the crowd, and I never forgot his smiling face, his kind words, and the scripture he wrote down under his autograph (Proverbs 3:5-6.) I met a lot of astronauts that summer, a lot of really incredible people, but this was the one that always stuck out to me (and still does; the memory hasn’t dimmed in a decade.)
His name was Rick Husband.