What was it like to be the family member of an astronaut in the days and hours before a launch? Specifically, I'm curious about launches during NASA'S space shuttle program. Where did family members stay while the astronauts were quarantined at the crew quarters at KSC? Where did they watch the launch from? What happened to them during the event of a tragedy, like when Challenger blew up? I'm also curious about if they had the chance to contact the astronauts via phone or mail before a launch, even though the astronauts were quarantined. Basically, any information you can give me on what it was like to be the spouse/ child of an astronaut. TIA
Having recently just finished reading First Man - The Life of Neil Armstrong, by James R. Hansen, 2006 and Apollo 13, by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Luger, 2006, read earlier this year.
During the quarantine periods, prior to launches and after the return of the Apollo 11 crew, the families stayed in there homes in Houston. During both quarantine periods, the astronauts were able to contact family via telephone. In the biography of Neil Armstrong it states that he telephoned his wife in Houston and his parents in Ohio during quarantine prior to launch.
In the book, Last Man on the Moon, 1999, Eugene Cernan and Don Davis, do not mention anything about the families of Apollo 17 during the quarantine period prior to launch.
Pre launch quarantine was done to ensure none of the astronauts contracted any diseases that might affect the mission and it also helped to keep the crew focused on the mission.
Regarding the families during launch. At least for the early Apollo missions the families were flown from Houston to Cape Kennedy (as it was then) watched the launch and then returned home to Houston.
As I recall, Janet Armstrong watched the launch of Apollo 11 from a yacht near the launch site. The families of other Apollo astronauts tended to watch the launch from the NASA designated site for viewing the launch at the Cape.