For some reading this you may consider it on a boredom level of 9.6 On the other hand others might agree this is most amazing and the odds of being successful are off the charts. Either way what you are about to read is true and I have witnesses.
As most will know that today 5/30/2020 was the launch of a SpaceX rocket from Pad 39A with two astronauts on board. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were on board the capsule on top of the Falcon 9 rocket. The launch was at 3:22pm and it was a perfect launch to send them to the International Space Station. I watched the launch on the Discovery Channel and heard that the final docking won't take place until at approx. 10:29am on Sunday. The capsule will basically be chasing the International Space Station in order to catch up. The ISS is moving at17,500mph at a altitude of 240-260 miles. The time from the launch to docking is about 19 hours.
This got me to thinking. Hmmmmm What are the possibilities that the ISS is visible tonight in a fly over. I checked my ISS Spotter App. Sure enough the ISS will be visible tonight at 9:39:50pm until 9:55:36pm at a angle of 37 degrees above the horizon traveling from NW to SE. Then looking at the weather satellite it appeared that the clouds will be diminishing so it would be visible. So that make this other possibility even more possible.
What if I could actually see the Endeavour Capsule chasing the ISS??
There was only ONE way to find out.
My wife and I got in the car at 9:15pm and drove up to Breezy View Park north of Columbia, Pa. Got there about 9:35pm. Did some navigational adjustments to determine the direction of the where the ISS would come into view. It was about then that a local cop shows up asking what was going on. So I explained what was about to happen. He got very interested and got out of the cruiser so to join the fun.
His name was Gus an was rather impressed with what I was explaining to him about the ISS and the possibility of Endeavour Capsule following. The difficulty here is how far behind the ISS is the Capsule. I had no clue. It would just be a matter of dumb luck to first be able to see such a small object being lit up by the sun passing some unknown distance behind the ISS.
Well just as the time was 9:39:50pm the ISS appeared overhead. Gus was impressed since it was his first time ever seeing it. As it moved across the sky my focus was behind the ISS. But, how far, and would it even be visible?? As the ISS started to get closer to the earths shadow I started to give up. It was at that time that Gus pointed and said what is that?? That there it was, a very small spec of light tracking behind the ISS. As for a distance behind the ISS after getting home, I did a little mathematical calculation in my CAD software and my best guess is 508.775 miles +/- a couple of inches. :-)
I feel very fortunate that the three(3) of us are part of a very small number of the population (I am sure there are others) of the earth that actually can say that they saw the SpaceX Endeavour Capsule carrying two(2) astronauts (Doug & Bob) in the very first Commercial rocket launch from Cape Canaveral launch pad 39A in 9 years as it was trailing after the ISS to be docked approximately 12 hours later.
How cool is that!!
So, if you hear it on the news that somebody somewhere saw it as well, you can say that you actually know somebody (a NUT) that did the same thing!! Or maybe you don't want to say that at all. It's your call!!!
Thanks for reading this whole thing (that is if you got past the first paragraph) and I hope you enjoyed the story and decide to share with others if you dare!!
Have a good rest of your day.