"Thunder Over Louisville" Thundernators are out of this world
The Kentucky Derby Festival is pleased to announce that NASA Commander Peggy Whitson and Astronaut Garrett Reisman, who are stationed 205 miles above Earth in the International Space Station, will serve as the official "Thundernators" for the 2008 Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show. At approximately 9:29 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, Whitson and Reisman will provide the Thunder countdown and "zero" ignition to activate the Thunder launch system sequence in the Command Center at the Galt House Hotel. The video feed from the International Space Station to the Thunder Command Center will be part of FOX 41 TV's and 103.1 WRKA's live coverage.
"We are excited about being involved with the Opening Ceremonies for the Kentucky Derby Festival, a world class event, and honored to be the 2008 Thundernators to get it all started," said Whitson and Reisman. Said Kentucky Derby Festival 2008 Chair Nancy Norris: "The theme of this year's Thunder is 'Out of This World,' and having our Thundernators stationed more than 200 miles above Earth certainly fits the bill. We're over the moon about having two NASA astronauts to start this year's Thunder fireworks show."
Representing Thunder on "Earth" in Louisville will be NASA Astronaut Dan Tani, who will be in the Command Center during the day. NASA is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2008 and April 12 represents an important day in the history of space flight. NASA returned to human space flight with the advent of the Space Shuttle in 1981. The Shuttle's first mission, STS-1, took off on April 12, 1981, demonstrating it could take off vertically and glide to an un-powered airplane-like landing. The start of the U.S. Space Program in 1958 was a response to the Soviet Union's launching of its satellite Sputnik I into orbit in 1957. On April 12, 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, in Vostok I, became the first human to orbit Earth.
Thunder Over Louisville, the Derby Festival's Opening Ceremonies, will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 12, with the Foodfest and Thunder on the Ground interactive activities and exhibits. The air show starts at 3 p.m. and then "Thunder" rolls at 9:30 p.m. Thunder is sponsored by Caesars Indiana, E.ON U.S., Meijer and UPS.