(AP Photo/John Raoux)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL. -- Creekside Elementary School sixth-grade teacher Donna Trease and Holt Elementary School fifth-grader teacher Kimberly Howard are friends of the pilot in Monday's shuttle launch, and they got front-row seats to the action.
Trease also serves as Utah Space Week Director and Howard as Assistant Space Week director. They were thrilled to be at the shuttle launch Monday and talked to KSL Newsradio from the NASA causeway before the launch.
This is Trease's third launch. "Never, never as exciting as this one. Even though I had a satellite go up on one, this is the most exciting because I know the pilot personally," she said.
Gregory or "Ray Jay" Johnson has come to Utah Space Week seven times. Today is his first mission, and Trease is excited for him to pilot the shuttle Atlantis.
She and Howard were given VIP passes to the launch and other events.
"After the reception last night, the busses took us right over close so that we could see Atlantis on stack, with lights on and such. And with the full moon it was gorgeous," Trease said.
They are wearing Utah Space Week shirts today. "It makes us proud to be from Utah because, after all, that shuttle would never go up if it weren't for ATK Thiokol," Trease said.
Trease will bring back videos, journals and other information to share with students around the state.
She says there must have been thousands of people watching. "I'm sure that's why a lot of people are here, because it really is really dangerous."
This mission is to repair the Hubble Telescope for the last time, making it last approximately another 15 years. This launch will put the shuttle at the highest altitude ever flown by a shuttle.