findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are
those of the developer, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and do not necessarily
reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE & the LIVE FROM... specials
"Launch of First Mars Exploration Rover"
13:57:47, one minute before launch, the umbilical linking ground support equipment and the test team to the rover is removed, and "Spirit" is on its own. Art Thompson releases the crew, and they rush out from fluorescent-lit, air-conditioned comfort into the humid Florida sunshine. 10 seconds before T-0, Art and the Avionics lead also bolt for the door.
T-0 plus a few... a roar... then, over the trees, a bright, bright streak, almost like a hole in the blue sky, letting transcendent brilliance poke through. Its "Spirit", aboard its Delta II. 20 people shield their eyes... at first quiet. A few tears... amazement that the day has finally come. Then Matt Wallace: "Ladies and Gentlemen, that is one beautiful launch..."