Go, Discovery! Go!
At 11:38 am (EDT) today the shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and made a safe, flawless, and beautiful ascent to space. Within the next hour, the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, will give Discovery a ‘Go for orbital ops,’ meaning that all essential tasks to turn the shuttle from a rocket ship to a space ship had been successfully completed!
This launch is especially dear to me as this is the crew with which I have been working for the past ten months in my capacity as EVA safety and mission assurance engineer. I’ve had the privilege of ‘getting my hands dirty’ in just about every facet of the EVA portion of this flight including crew training; mission logistics; payloads; contingency planning; and a host of briefings regarding certification of flight readiness, safety, and mission success.
As we continue to ask God’s blessing and care over our shuttle and station crews in the days ahead, let me again take some space for this hymn from the Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974). (BTW, while the words are new to us, the tune for this hymn is familiar and is that for “The Navy Hymn” and “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” found here.)
Bless Thou the Astronauts Who Face
Bless Thou the astronauts who face
The vast immensities of space;
And may they know, in air, on land,
Thou holdest them within in thy hand.
O may the small step each doth take
Aid others giant leaps to make.
How excellent in all the earth
Thy name, O God, who gave it birth;
When first upon the moon man trod,
How excellent thy name, O God.
The heavens thy glory doth declare;
Where-e’re we are, Lo! thou are there.
We still upon thy laws depend
As our dominions thus extend,
While from the nations triumph rings
When we mount up with eagles’ wings.
Grant on each planet, far and near,
To all thy glory may appear.
Give all men, for all time to be,
The blessing of tranquility,
As galaxies and quasars share
The knowledge that our God is there!
May future aeons call to mind,
“We came in peace for all mankind.”