Sunday, February 2, 2003

Local woman recalls 'perfect' launch

By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP - Nora Beck, who is 78, has been following the U.S. space program since its inception. But she had never seen a launch in person until Jan. 16, when the Anderson Township woman watched space shuttle Columbia rumble skyward in a blaze of light.

"It was an awesome sight. It gives you goose bumps almost," she said. "I was thrilled to be able to watch one (in person)."

Saturday, she had a much different feeling. "It makes you sick," she said while watching TV coverage of the disaster. She said she would "probably keep it on until it isn't on anymore."

She had gone to Florida last month on a family vacation with her daughter, Nancy Doak, son-in-law Clayton, and their 4-year-old daughter, Alexa, who also live in Anderson Township. It was their first time to witness a launch, too.

"I'm just devastated," Nancy Doak, who is 43, said. "My heart goes out to the families."

Her family awoke at 3:30 a.m. on launch day to get to Kennedy Space Center.

Their vantage point was six miles south of the launching pad. Launch was at 10:39 a.m., under mostly sunny skies.

"It was a picture-perfect launch," Doak said. She saw tears in her mother's eyes as Columbia lifted off.

Since then, the family has been following the mission's progress on NASA's Web site.

"Everything has been going so perfectly," Doak said.

Until Saturday morning, when her mother called and told her to turn on the TV.


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