09 February 2010

last night launch of the shuttles

an era has ended. the last of the night launches occurred with the endeavour and its sts-130 mission. if congress approves the president’s proposed budget, manned space flight will pretty much be a done deal when the shuttles retire in may.

this launch was heavily attended as it is the final night launch. and the final shuttle launch in may will also likely have a record nunber of witnesses. (i can’t imagine the traffic for that crowd.) the astronaut hall of fame was filled up early on sunday morning only to have the launch scrubbed. they honored the tickets purchased for the next morning’s launch, but we got “upgraded” to watch the launch at kennedy space center (ksc). that’s a closer spot than the hall of fame!

i surmise many who attended last night wouldn’t make it the monday morning as many have work and school on monday. but being back at ksc was definitely exciting! i had considered visiting on monday before they rescheduled the launch. it was also rare to see ksc after dark. the mirror memorial was lit up like you can only see at night.  the whole complex was up and running as if it were a normal day.

about an hour before t-zero, i set up my tripod near the shuttle simulation building.  many had camped out spaces in that area already.  more probably would have if it weren’t so cold outside.  there were cautionary conditions again monday morning as we had on sunday morning, but things cleared up enough to move things ahead.

nothing beats the spectacular scene of a night launch! it was definitely worth the trip!  i captured the launch on video however i must state that this presentation pales in comparison to seeing the sky as bright as day when it took off.  it was like daylight, like watching the sun rise very quickly.  truly amazing!