It was a dream come true. My brother and I were in Orlando
Florida to witness our first Space Shuttle Launch. The
Discovery was scheduled to soar at 10:14 AM on a blue sky
September day. I'd seen it go up so many times on
television, but now I was only minutes away from seeing it
launch with my own eyes - hearing it with my own ears.
If you've never gone to Orlando and witnessed a live launch,
you ought to because it is spectacular and unforgettable -
And it's the ultimate demonstration of the nature of
success: Success Takes Off Like a Rocket.
Witnessing the Take Off:
Standing close to the Space Shuttle drives home one
unforgettable point - the Shuttle is the height equivalent
of a 15 story building - it weighs 4.5 million pounds - and
NASA is endeavoring to lift it 200 miles off the ground. On
TV the accomplishments looks so much smaller - so much
Throngs of people are standing around with you to watch the
Shuttle go. You can feel the anticipation tingling in your
hands. Then the countdown begins through the small speakers
of hundreds of portable radios all tuned to the NASA
station. It's enough to get your heart beating out of your
The tremendous feat starts with one very small human step.
During pre-launch activities, a person pulls a manual lock
pin from each of the shuttle's two side booster rockets - so
that at T-minus five minutes, the shuttle's 'Safe and Arm
Device' can be rotated to the 'Arm' position.
From this point on, the primary action is shared by two side
booster rockets, three main engines, on board and command
central computers, and eight bolts. The Shuttle is supported
on the mobile launch pad with eight28 inch bolts that
detonate on ignition.
T-minus 10 seconds
T-minus 9 seconds
T-minus 8 seconds
T-minus 7 seconds
At T-minus 6.6 seconds the main engine start commands are
issued by the on board computers and the three engines
stagger start - all approximately within a quarter of a
second of one another.
T-minus 5 seconds.
T-minus 4 seconds. The main engines have achieved 90-percent
thrust within three seconds. They are ready to deliver 1.1
million pounds of thrust.
T-minus 3 seconds. Computers are initiating all the commands
now and they must receive three simultaneous commands - Arm,
Fire 2 and Fire 1 - in order for the pyrotechnics to begin.
The Arm commands signals a capacitator to 40 volts. The Fire
2 command signals flames from the three main engines to fire
through a thin barrier and down a flame tunnel that is 490
feet long and 40 feet high. The Fire 1 command is issued to
arm the side boosters to deliver 6.2 million pounds of
T-minus 2 seconds.
T-minus 1 second.
T-minus Zero: The side booster rockets are ignited and the
eight explosive bolts blow. When the bolts detonate the
shuttle is free to move. And the bolts fall into a tray of
The first thing you see are large billowing white steam
clouds blasting away from the rocket because 300,000 gallons
of water is being flooded in to deaden a reverberating sound
wave that would shake the shuttle into fragments.
Through the steam, at the base of the skyscraper-like-
rocket, you see the fire power - and it's brilliant red,
white-hot-orange, and blinding yellow. Then the Space
Shuttle begins to inch off the pad.
Your chest is thumped with an inaudible shock wave an
instant before your ears are filled with a roaring
And the shuttle inches, and inches, and claws its way upward
- so slowly at first that you swear a full ascent would
never be possible. Barely moving. Burning up massive amounts
of fuel. Thousands upon millions of pounds of thrust lifting
the shuttle hardly at all. .... But with ever increasing
ease, the shuttle picks up and roars into the sky, headed
into space attaining a speed of over 17,000 mph.
It is within the first two minutes off the Space Shuttle
launch where the great success lesson is present. Fact: 85%
of the shuttle's fuel is expended within the first 2 minutes
just to get the 15 story super structure 1/12 of the way to
it's orbital altitude.
And that's exactly how success takes off: The first steps
you take towards launching a successful career, project, or
product are the hardest and will require an enormous
expenditure of energy - a great big push. However, if you
persist through the launch phase, which can seem almost
futile for quite some time, guaranteed - everything get's
easier and easier and your results get bigger and bigger.
Do the work it takes to get off the launch pad. Astronauts
show us that the view is brilliant.