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Pete Apple
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So I wanted to thank Wil and everyone for the stories. It's very helpful, as it was really a rough time. Let me explain. The morning of the 28th, I in West Lafayette. I was a sophomore at Purdue, living on campus in one of the engineering dorms. It was, needless to say, computer & DnD central, something I'm sure you can appreciate, Wil. There were two AeroEng fellows that lived down the hall. They were also Air Force ROTC, so were both working towards the path of trying to go for the gold ring - some sort of position with NASA. One fellow was a also a good candidate for astaunaut training, if he kept with things. Having one of the few TV's on the floor, they often came down to my room to watch launches and the like. They were there that day and we watched the launch live. We always got worked up as the countdown went by, and one fellow always said "There she goes!" at liftoff, or somesuch. About one minute in - things went to hell and it all went in slow motion. Mind you it had not blown yet - that wasn't until 1:13. We were all shuttle junkies, and knew it top to bottom. I distinctly remember noticing the SRB plume, and one of the other fellows said it: "What's on the SRB?" and then "Holy crap the tank.." or something like that. Then the tank blew and the shuttle blew and we all started screaming. Literally screaming "HolyShitHolyShit". One of the Aero's is ranting about liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, while the other (the guy shooting for astronaut training) is now staring at the over and over replays with this blank look of shock. People were coming down the hall at that point and my room turns into trauma central as more people try to cram in to find out what happened and start freaking. Eventually, things calmed down a bit, but it stayed "fresh" for everyone over the next few weeks as the AeroEng school was helping to consider the possible causes. I stopped watching launches after that for awhile. I'm not sure if either of those fellows made it further, we didn't talk to much and they moved on to off campus living. I never really talked to the one fellow about astronaut training again.
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Jan 29, 2011