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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Have you ever watched the Space Shuttle launch at o-dark-thirty?

Living in Central Florida means we have that luxury - even here in Orlando we can see the Space Shuttle once it clears the trees - granted it's mostly a tiny silvery glimmer with a chem trail - but you don't have to be on the coast to actually see it. Heck we can even see the boosters fall off if you watch it long enough. Growing up here it was just part of every day life - if there was a launch, everything stopped and everyone gathered around the TV to watch the live news report and once it lifted off, you could watch it a minute two on TV and the run outside and look to the East and shortly thereafter you would spot it come up over the tree line. It wasn't until I was much older (yeah, i'm brilliant, but slow...I told you before LOL) that it dawned on me that  maybe it wasn't a big deal everywhere else. Sure it was always on the minds of the NASA folks at the various emergency landing areas, but did my junior high school counterparts in South Dakota care? Did they watch it on TV like we did at school? Obviously they weren't all ushered out to the school yard to watch it live, but still...

Even later on (ok, just in the last couple of years) did it occur to me that I never took advantage of living so close. Seeing it from Orlando was good enough. So Mr. Paisley and I started taking days off of work for random launches. We packed a cooler full of drinks and snacks, grabbed the laptop, and an assortment of cameras, plus a couple of chairs and headed off to Titusville. Titusville is...well dying. More so now that the space program is kinda being put on hold. We actually bought our hot tub from a NASA guy over there who is being relocated to TX. Anywho - T'ville is a typical somewhat dumpy and run down beach town (even though it's not really the beach, it's just the other side of the river from the beach). It's close enough to have the typical peeling paint, rusty, laid back, don't care beach vibe. The CVS is makes a KILLING on launch days - it's right by  Space View Park which is a great place to watch the launch since the launch pads are right across the river. It's near where we go (you didn't think I was going to post my secret launch view spot on the Internet did you?). It's very busy...very...busy.

The best launches are night launches. They are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The shuttle will light up the sky like it's a summer morning. It's always fun to hear the visitors (ie - not FL locals) who are in our not so secret spot when the shuttle lifts off - because it's dead silent...and that's what they say "I thought it would make some noise"...and a few seconds later the ground will shake, nearby windows will rattle and what sounds something like rolling thunder slowly rolls up to you and gets louder...and louder...and well...eventually goes away. Yes Virgina...there's that whole "speed of sound" thing going on ;-) bit of a delay in it crossing the river. 

So in honor of Outdoor Wednesday with Susan, here are some photos of the last night launch Mr. Paisley and I went to see. Mother Nature wasn't cooperating and there was a HUGE and very low cloud there was hardly any time to snap photos. The video is better, but I haven't uploaded it yet (not a high priority LOL).

This is the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) and a really bad photo to boot. This was with the mega digital zoom from across the I could do without a snazzy DSLR and $1000 worth of lenses ;-)

Ignition (see? It's like daylight! Only it's not day TIME)

Ahhh the sun is coming's just the shuttle burning a little rocket fuel!
 Liftoff! Seriously - look to the far right you can see the VAB again. This was taken at the highest optical zoom setting.

One of my friends said it looks like I caught a shot of the nuke bomb that started WWIII... 

Amazing isn't it?

And right into the stupid cloud layer. Still a pretty cool shot...

 And now it's getting dark again...creeping in from the top and bottom...because it was somewhere around 2:30 in the morning.
Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System The First 100 Missions, 3rd EditionFinal Countdown: NASA and the End of the Space Shuttle ProgramThe Space Shuttle: A Photographic History


Laura @ The Shabby Rabbit said...

Wow! That must feel so surreal! Great shots!

Cindy said...

Oh my, I have never seen anything like that! Thank you so much, it must be very exciting to watch. We had friends for a few years who lived near Titusville. They have moved now.
Hugs, Cindy S

~Robin~ said...

Glad you enjoyed them. I need to get on the ball with transferring the video to the computer so I can post it. It's always a once in a lifetime experience :-)