Rich is away for work and last night I was sitting peacefully in the sunroom, knitting quietly while the cats gave themselves an evening lick-up. When the explosion came we all three shot straight up into the air and the cats simply vaporized while I ran for the front door. I opened it, looked out and saw nothing and decided that the 100 year old oak must have fallen on the back side of the house. I raced to the back of the house and up the stairs to Rich’s office above the garage where I could get a better look at the roof. Nothing. I was stunned by the sheer house shaking volume of the noise and while I tried hard to organize my thoughts I decided to run back into the house and lock all the doors. This is an indication of how much the noise startled me: I rarely lock the doors and I have no idea what good I thought that would do anyway. Then I snatched up the phone to call my neighbors to see what they might know. At this point less than two minutes had elapsed. As I dialed their number I glanced at the television that I’d left on and I saw- live coverage of the space shuttle landing over at Kennedy Space Center 130 miles away.
My neighbor was laughing at me even as I sputtered into the phone, “what was that? was that…? REALLY???” This confirms my status as a snowbird and a Florida newbie.
I tried to read a bit about the shuttle’s landing. At this NASA site you can find out enough to fly your own space shuttle from start to finish; I didn’t understand any of it. This Google Answers link was a bit more user friendly and it’s really pretty interesting. At a little over a hundred miles away from the space center, we aren’t able to see the shuttle’s trail because it is so fragmented but we get the full effect of the sonic boom. Apparently, when the shuttle passed over us it was moving at a speed of about 1800 mph and it was still at an altitude of 90,000 feet. This is snail’s pace compared to the 17,000 mph it flies to break out of the earth’s orbit. And, I think if I understood this correctly, we heard the sound about 60 seconds after it happened, which helps explain how it was busy landing a minute, give or take, after I heard that incredible explosion. What? Now I’m confused again (still). Anyway, as far as Sophie and McCloud were concerned, 90,000 feet was entirely too close: they didn’t creep cautiously out of the closet for almost an hour.
(Home, safe and sound, last night.)