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Chapman poet, librarian stand by for Discovery launch

November 2, 2010

Chapman Magazine has some extraordinarily special correspondents out on assignment this week.

Signs around NASA's Kennedy Space Center count down to Wednesday's launch of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 mission. Photo Credit: NASA

Anna Leahy, Ph.D., associate professor of English at Chapman University, and Douglas Dechow., Ph.D., associate librarian at Leatherby Libraries, are in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to witness the launch of the Discovery space shuttle, one of the final shuttle launches planned by NASA, which is expected to retire the fleet after the Endeavor launches in February. They’re posting live observations about the event in their blog, Lofty Ambitions, where they cover the science, literature and art of aviation, and will write an in-depth article for the spring 2011 issue of Chapman Magazine.

The project is both a literary and historic journey, as well as a landmark event for the couple. In an Orange County Register story about their undertaking, Leahy said:  “I think part of it is that we were both born in the mid 60s, so the United States space program spans our lifetime … And with no funded programs for the future, this could be the end of American manned spaceflight.”

Dr. Douglas Dechow and Dr. Anna Leahy. Photo/David Goto

At the moment they are experiencing another hallmark of space flight – delays. Discovery was scheduled to blast off Monday, but electrical glitches prompted NASA to postpone the launch until Wednesday. A troublesome back up controller computer also caused a flurry of concern today. Meanwhile, weather is a growing concern, as a storm is expected to develop Thursday, Dechow said today.

“There is an enormous amount of fluctuation in the weather here. Lightning is an enormous concern for them,” Dechow said.

Despite the delays, though, both Leahy and Dechow have been busy conducting interviews, attending press conferences and taking photographs and video to share on their blog and in Chapman Magazine.

“We’ve kept remarkably busy,” he said. “We have lots and lots of notebooks. Lots and lots of video.”

And their hopes are high. As of Tuesday afternoon, the rotating service structure that surrounds the shuttle during its preparatory work was still scheduled to be rolled away this evening, in anticipation of a Wednesday launch.

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