I saw the International Space Station go over my house the other night. I waved.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely any of the astronauts saw me, seeing as the orbit of the space station is not exactly tree-top level. No matter. It’s the thought that counts.
Glenn Burns was right: he said I wouldn’t have any trouble seeing it. What I saw was a bright object — bigger than a star but smaller than an asteroid headed for Smyrna – streak across the sky. Well, it didn’t actually streak; it sort of moved briskly and was visible for about 4 minutes. When you see it (check www.Nasa.gov for the schedule) you’ll know it’s the real thing and not Jupiter taking a detour. Another thing Glenn Burns told me was to be on time. The Space Station has a lot going on and is compulsively punctual.
When I was a kid I saw Sputnik, the first one ever launched. My Dad and I got up before dawn and watched the southeastern sky from our official satellite viewing area in the front yard of our house in Southwest Atlanta.
The Russians were punctual too. Sputnik was right on schedule, and we were able to see it for about 3 minutes.
From then on I was hooked on the space program. The Russians whipped us space-wise until the original 7 astronauts and other really smart people pushed ahead in the “race.”
I spent some time as John Glenn’s press secretary when he ran for the Senate. He’s a nice guy, self-effacing, humble, smart, brave and a certified card-carrying, gold-plated, fantasy-inducing Hero with a capital “H.”
John wasn’t aboard the Space Station the night I saw it. But it was John Glenn and Neal Armstrong and the others who made it happen. John would probably have loved being on the Space Station, and, if he was, I bet he would have waved back.