Willem Botha visited the Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US for the launch of Landsat-7 aboard a
Delta-II launch vehicle in 1999.
The experience left him with a permanent impression of mankind’s ability to achieve the seemingly impossible: from the countdown and billowing white smoke from six solid rockets that engulfed the nose fairing of the gigantic launcher as it lifted the satellite into space, to the deafening
roar of the rocket motors as the launcher passed
Mach 1 and climbed rapidly into the sky on a thick white smoke trail, until it became too small for the naked eye to see.
“The experience of seeing Landsat-7 on its way into orbit after a perfect launch impressed upon me the spectacular phenomenon of space flight and mankind’s astounding technological achievements.
While there have been failures, such as Landsat-6 that never achieved orbit, the many hundreds of successes far eclipse the failures. Landsat-5 is an example of a satellite that operated for an unbelievable 15 years when it had been designed for a lifetime of only three years.”
– Willem Botha