Students’ enthusiasm for space undimmed by delayed Orion launch

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - After a few hours of hopeful waiting, it was a disappointed crowd that left the Davidson Center Thursday morning.

The US Space and Rocket Center had hosted a watch party for the scheduled launch of the Orion capsule.

Two screens were connected via NASA TV simulcast with Kennedy Space Center in Florida. About 350 space camp trainees sat alongside area students and officials from Marshall Space Flight Center.

 

Monique Owens, along with her 10-year-old sons Edson and Edward, enjoyed touring the Saturn V Hall before watching the simulcast in the theater

Monique Owens, along with her 10-year-old sons Edson and Edward, enjoyed touring the Saturn V Hall before watching the simulcast in the theater

There were cheers as the countdown clock came up on the screen several times. The cheers were followed by brief sighs as - again and again - the clock was stopped.

When NASA eventually announced Thursday's launch attempt had been scrubbed, the children were understandably deflated.  However, their enthusiasm for space remained.

Seven-year-old Abigail Bennett is a second-grader at Madison Academy. She has been following the Orion mission closely and said, "I like space a lot and I want to be one of the first people on Mars."

Paul Gilbert is happy to see that kind of passion in this younger generation.  A senior manager at Marshall Space Flight Center, he was on-hand at the watch party to explain some of the mission points to the crowd.

He cautioned everyone in attendance - young and old - against something NASA refers to as "launch fever." "Which is, you want to go so bad, you make it go when you shouldn't go," Gilbert said.

Gilbert pointed out that's why so many rules and procedures are part of the launch process.  He added, "it's disappointing when it doesn't go, but it's part of the business. It's part of trying to do it right."