David C. Hilmers, mission specialist for the space shuttle Discovery mission STS-26 scheduled for launch September 1988, has been with NASA since 1980.
The October morning was warm and pleasant with an azure sky that made me feel that I could see forever. As I waited two hundred feet above the ground on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center for my turn to ingress the flight deck of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, I was startled by the peace-fulness of the scene which I knew would soon turn into a blinding fireball.
“. . . and under His wings you will find refuge . . . .”
I looked across the gantry with some discomfit at the huge solid rockets and the enormous tank containing the cryogenic propellants. Although they looked safe enough now, I knew of the immense energy contained in each. The confi