I watched NASA’s Orion spacecraft make a morning full of attempts to get off the ground last week before controllers called it a day, and then make good on their efforts the next morning.
The first morning’s attempts, with countdowns repeatedly and frustratingly interrupted by calls of “Hold! Hold! Hold!” just short of T-minus 3:00, brought to my mind the early days of manned flight. I was just a kid in early elementary school when I watched the Mercury flights, and later Gemini. Those flights were also frequently interrupted by the call of “Hold.” School was in walking distance, so my mom let me be a little late as I dawdled hoping to watch the launch. If I had to leave before lift-off, I hoped NASA would scrub the launch for a day or two. Sometimes when I came home from lunch, instead of watching Soupy Sales, I found the rocket was still on the pad and I got to watch it lift-off after all.
It was more dramatic back then, of course, compared to the Orion launch. There was more at stake then. Heck, even unmanned launches in those days were dramatic as most of them blew up. It seemed to people watching that it was just a roll of the dice for the astronauts to survive lift-off.