Friday, May 28, 2010

shuttle launch!

Here are the long awaited photos from the Space Shuttle Launch!
I recommend clicking on each photo to enlarge it.

It was a gorgeous day for STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The lights at night from 12 miles away.
We wanted to see the launch pad at night with all the lights.  This was the closest we could get, but our little reconnoiter trip made us resolve to come back to this same spot to view the launch.

Sunrise, about eight hours before the launch.

This was such a great day. SD and I woke up at 0530 and by 0558 our tents were down, we were changed into our clothes for the day, a bathroom run was completed, and we were backing out of our camping space and heading to Titusville, FL to get our viewing spot for the Shuttle Launch.  About 20 minutes later we paid, parked and got out of the car just in time to catch a gorgeous sunrise.  Perfect timing!  Then we climed back in the car, and went back to sleep for about three hours.  We woke up surrounded by cars and people.  Lots of time to relax, walk to Walgreen's and Circle K for bathroom runs and cold drinks, sleep some more, read and think about life.

Off she goes!  Just a few seconds after launch.
This was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  These photos don't even do it justice, but we had to try to capture it.

Even from 12 miles away, we could hear the launch.  It took a few seconds before we could hear it, and at first it was just a rumble in the distance that grew louder and louder.  Then almost imperceptibly the ground began to vibrate for a just a few short seconds.  It was amazing.

Go baby go!
I was crying and praying, "God Speed.  Come home safe.  Thank you for this."
It was so much better than I had every imagined.

Words just can't do it justice.
It seemed like we watched her go up forever.  It was a perfect day for a launch.  Visibility was fantastic, because we could see her go and go and go and go.  We wondered afterwards what it must have been like the day that Challenger blew up.  If the weather and visibility were anything like our day, then it would have been an absolutely perfect view for such a chilling sight.  "God Speed.  Come home safe."

There's a bright white spot at the end of the jet stream where Atlantis is.

Atlantis had a perfect final mission and landed without mishap on 26 May 2010 at Kennedy Space Center.  Now she will be outfitted one last time as the back-up, rescue craft and be put on standby for an emergency.  I really hope she isn't needed for a space rescue (can you imagine?), but I would love to see her fly again.

Beautiful white jet stream against the perfect blue sky.

The vehicle assembly building (VAB) in the center is the iconic NASA building
I remember so well seeing it on television as a child.
Just above the flag, is the Crawler which transports the assembled Shuttle
with the External Tank and Booster Rockets
one mile down the gravel track to the launch pad.
Awesome engineering!

Enjoy my slide show!!!
Here's the link, if the embedded viewing doesn't work:

My seven-year-old self was jumping up and down, and crying for joy this day.

photos by sd who traveled with me- thanks a million!!!


Tara said...

FINALLY!! Thanks for putting these up. Wow, what beautiful pictures. The sunrise over the ocean seems unreal. I am so happy for you that you got to do this, and that it was a dream fulfilled for you. What a experience of a lifetime. I wish I could have been there with you--with my entourage--but I think then it would have been a crazy vacation instead of a relaxing one. I would love for my kids to experience that. I would like to hear more about the Kennedy Space Station and what you saw there. I loved your slide show too. Wow Christine, that's all I can say.

Tanya S. said...

Awesome photos! It sounds like an incredible experience!

Angela said...

I loved these pictures! Absolutely loved them! What a perfect day. I'm so glad you got to do this! It is a once in a lifetime experience.

What great pictures!

Wayne said...

Remember that the solid fuel boosters were made just over the mountain in Box Elder County. Never got to go over for a static test, but one day coming down the hill to the light in Brigham City we could see the big cloud of smoke to the north west where they were having a static test.
Your pictures contained a part of Utah too.