BLACK AND STARS — “The Space Shuttle’s three main engines and two solid rocket boosters spewed fire and smoke, and their deafening noise roared in my ears during seven launches into space. Burning millions of pounds of fuel, the rockets shook the ground, and even 300,000 gallons of water pouring over the launch pad could only attempt to soften the thunder as we humans escaped the grip of earth’s gravity.
Eight and one-half minutes later, the mighty engines stopped. Then the only sounds came from our voices, the flow of air circulated by fans, the rip of Velcro releasing stowed equipment, and the clatter as we prepared to begin our assigned work.
Without the sophisticated listening devices scientists use on earth to hear the whispers of the universe, to an astronaut space is infinite quiet, a place where we bring the only sounds that break the silence. Our Space Shuttle noiselessly raced around the earth at 17,500 miles per hour, an orbit every 90 minutes.”