At 11:56 AM on Wednesday, September 21, I received this text message from my friend, Adriana: “Endeavour just passed, very close n flew slowly. It’s SOOOO COOL…!” I was sitting inside an enclosed space; the Jane Austen quote “How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?” immediately came to mind. During the previous two days, I had read up on the best locations to view Endeavour in the air. Is it possible that too much research caused me to forget the scheduled flight entirely?
Since Adriana’s workplace is much closer to LAX, I speculated Endeavour would soon land and lamented the lost opportunity. Lunch should lessen my vexation. But while cruising through a nearby shopping center’s deserted parking lot, I noticed a handful of people standing on some steps, playing with their handheld devices. What a peculiar sight. Were they waiting for someone or to see something? Endeavour? No way. Should I ask? This shopping center being familiar territory, very seldom do I see people linger outdoors under the scorching sun. After pampering my car with a roomy space in an underground structure, I took the escalator to the mall’s entrance. Someone a few feet behind me suddenly shouted, “Just saw the space shuttle fly over.” The lady was trying to get the attention of another person who had just come out of the shopping center. My heart sank. I should have stopped and asked minutes ago. I could have caught a glance of the shuttle if I had simply turned my head around and looked up to the sky. The quote of the moment was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.”
All this space shuttle excitement made me ponder its connection, if any, with tea. At the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts prepare drinks by mixing dehydrated powder with water. In his post, Eating at Cafe ISS, NASA astronaut Ed Lu describes how the station’s water dispenser only supplies warm and hot water, so the crew can’t enjoy beverages like iced tea until they return to Earth. Juice flavors were mentioned, but not tea flavors. Possibly there is one choice – black tea?
In Bistronauts, astronaut and chemist Dr. Don Pettit demonstrates beverage consumption using an open container. Wouldn’t we all appreciate the opportunity to attend a tea gathering like the Russian Christmas celebration in the video?! Not sure why Dr. Pettit’s did not showcase his mixology skills in a micro-gravity environment.
Tea powder is widely used in flavoring food products. How about direct consumption? Only in the International Space Station? Tea enthusiasts’ first choice is often loose tea. Teabags may be a reluctant substitute. Is powdered tea the last resort? I can’t help but associate tea powder with artificial flavor.
Of course, I did not allow myself to miss the chance-of-a-lifetime Endeavour parade on October 13. Endeavour was accompanied by a landscaping crew who unfortunately had to trim and chop more trunks real-time after having already destroyed 400 city trees. NASA was asked why the orbiter could not be disassembled first. The response: “Once disassembled, not sure if it can be put back together.”
Note: Endeavour with a “u” is the correct spelling for the orbiter, named after the British HMS (Her/His Majesty’s Ship) Endeavour, the ship that took Captain James Cook (1728 – 1779) on his Pacific voyages.