When you ask anyone who’s been to a shuttle launch, they always speak of the experience as awesome, fantastic and amazing. They talk about the fire, the smoke and the sound in such vague and grandiose terms that when you have grown up so far from the space coast, that language brings to your foremind the videos of a shuttle being accelerated up past the atmosphere by two tanks of thermite generating 6.6 million pounds of thrust. Despite understanding that I’d be at least six and a half miles out from Launchpad 39A – several miles outside of the kill zone – I imagined that the launch would leave me with retinal and auditory damage, with jellied nerves and that “what just happened,” feeling that you get when you get caught in a explosive shock-wave. I expected physical, visceral awe. I came away with something very different.