San Francisco space enthusiast waits for stalled Endeavour launch 

It’s a memory Kathryn Hill vividly recalls — all the way back to the third grade.

“The first space shuttle went up in 1981,” the San Francisco resident said. “I remember my teacher brought a television in the classroom and we all watched it together. I’ve wanted to see a shuttle launch in person since then.”

Now, it seems the wait of seeing her first ever space shuttle launch is over.

Maybe.

Though Hill’s aspiration of seeing a real-time space launch seemed ripe for takeoff last week, that dream will have to wait a little longer as last Friday’s scheduled Endeavour launch was scrubbed.

After heaters on the shuttle’s fuel line failed, the launch at Kennedy’s Space Center in Florida was tentatively rescheduled for today, but later canceled. NASA teams have since fixed the problem and have met to discus a new launch date. According to NASA’s website, the new launch date won’t be sooner than May 8.

After Friday’s initial launch failure, Hill said she would stay in Florida. It is unknown, however, if she’ll continue to wait out the next launch there.

But despite having a natural interest in space exploration, there is another reason why Hill wants to witness the launch. A case of meningitis when she was 3½ years old left Hill deaf.

Though the Web director doesn’t want to be an astronaut, she has an itch to see beyond the world.

“I think it’s always important to show others, especially younger generations, that anything is possible and having a disability doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself,” Hill said.

Hill was chosen last March as one of 150 @NASA Twitter followers invited to see Endeavour’s final launch mission, which includes delivering an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer — a device used to detect Dark Matter — to the nearly complete space station.

The Twitter followers invited to attend the launch were from 43 states and nine countries.

aterrazas@sfexaminer.com

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Sunday, Sep 14, 2014

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