The soon-to-be-retired space shuttle Discovery is gearing up for its final mission today, as it blasts off to the International Space Station. But if you don’t live anywhere near the Kennedy Space Center, not to worry: organizations Quest for the Stars and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education will make sure you get a good view of the launch.
The organizations have launched their own helium balloon— the Robonaut-1— up to an altitude of 100,000 feet, fully equipped with cameras to take high-definition photographs and live video of the shuttle on its last mission. There will be a live stream of the video, but Bobby Russell— a spokesperson for Quest for the Stars— has said that the best stuff will come later, when the payload of the Robonaut-1 is recovered and the hi-def shots can be viewed.
The two organizations involved in the project were both founded to help improve and promote science education for children. The Challenger Center is one of the foremost space and science education facilities, offering simulated space missions and other fun science-based activities for kids. Quest for the Stars, meanwhile, makes space science a little more accessible for kids through their balloon launches, videos, and photo coverage.
Good coverage of space travel is not only important for promoting science education, but it also tends to have a positive effect on people’s respect for our planet: seeing Earth from outer space reminds us how beautiful it really is, and seeing the vast emptiness of space makes us realize how important it is to protect the environment and keep our planet healthy.
If you want to watch the launch, the video will be streamed on UStream, Challenger.org and OnOrbit. The launch begins at 4:50pm ET today, February 24th. Be sure to check back with Quest for the Stars later for the “jaw-dropping” images!