Bob Graham: my first satellite launch

Bob Graham describes viewing his first space rocket launch.

Have you done anything fun since I’ve seen you last?  

No [laughs].  Well, yes, that’s not true.  I have actually seen and witnessed my first space craft launch, first hand.  I was five kilometres, three miles, away from the actual launch pad.  And you see the ignition, there’s a big blaze of light which lights, literally lights up the sky, and then a few minutes later there is the roar and the rumble of the engines.  And then you see it start to move, to move off and accelerate away.  And the power, the noise, the light, is quite amazing.  And then you just watch it track into the sky and, yeah, it’s an amazing sight to see.  It really is.  I think I said afterwards it was awesome, which of course is a somewhat over utilised word [laughs].  It wasn’t so much that the ground moved or anything, but certainly you could hear the noise.  It wasn’t that sort of earthquake type moment.  I suppose it was the light, which was the first one, because it was a night launch.  So it was all dark, and then the countdown’s going on in the background, you know when the engines are going to be ignited, and then bang, this huge blast of light and away it goes.  

What sort of emotions do you have when it’s actually preparing to launch and then going up? 

That’s an interesting question, because somebody else asked me that same question and my comment was – well because at that point I’m well aware that all systems are green, all of the checks are done, and I’m also aware that if there is any issue, problem, that the countdown would be stopped, an investigation would take place.  So I was very, very confident that there wasn’t going to be, if you like, an explosion, or a big, major thing like that.  So that was not in my mind.  Probably the thing that was in my mind was that it was going to be delayed, and how was I going to get home for Christmas? Because [laughs] I said to my wife [laughs] 'I’m going to stay for the launch.'

  • Interviewee Bob Graham
  • Duration 00:02:27
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Thomas Lean
  • Date of interview 1/23/2013
  • Shelfmark C1379/90
  • Keywords

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