Andy Thomas describes his first flight into space, 2008

Transcript of sound recording

A first flight is probably the most significant flight that you'll ever have, and I remember it well, being strapped in and waiting and hearing the countdown. And I was on the flight deck of Endeavour and I was able to use a wrist mirror to look out the windows behind me down into the flame trench, and I could see the engines light and I could feel the vibrations start and the plumes of exhaust gases build up, and then suddenly a big kick in the pants as the bolts were fired that were holding us down and the solid rocket boosters ignited, a huge explosion of light, and we thundered up into the sky. The launch tower passed by the window very quickly, clouds rushed by the window, the sky slowly turned darker and darker and we went faster and faster, and a mere eight-and-a-half minutes after leaving the launch pad we were travelling at about 30,000 km an hour and we were in orbit. It was a great ride.

It turned out coincidentally that our ground track, after leaving the launch pad, took us of course over the Atlantic, then over Africa, then over the Indian Ocean and then almost exactly over Adelaide. And I had a timer set up so that an alarm would go off on my wristwatch at the time that we were supposed to be there, and I did that. It was night-time of course, but as we flew over I could see the cluster of lights of the city way below me. And I remember my first views of Australia very well, the daylight views, because I was struck how red the continent was in relation to the surrounding blue ocean. It was quite colourful.