Space Shuttle Endeavour – last night launch

2010 marks the end of the space shuttle program. I had never seen a launch and it is one of those things I told myself I’d see. So a buddy of mine and I, along with the help of his wife conspired to converge in Florida for the February 7th launch, which would also happen to be the last night launch. Oh joy!

-1200 miles from Texas to Orlando Florida, check.
-4 hours in line to get to the causeway, check.
-3 more hours of waiting, check.
-no go due to low cloud cover, check.

Wait whaaaat? The first night was insane. There were SO many people there to see this thing go, I could not believe it. We estimated there were at least 5000 people on the causeway via bus alone, not to mention the thousands of folks watching from further away public locations. It was PACKED. No technical issues were being worked on all night, only issue was the threat of low cloud cover which would make an emergency landing back at Kennedy Space Center dangerous. Weather went from 80% go one hour before launch, down to 30% go at the 9 minute hold. Feb. 7th launch was scrubbed.

Should we do it again? We drove 1200 miles and waited in line and in the cold for no reason? I think not! So we foolishly sign up again for the next night. Rinse repeat, except NO crowds. Between the superbowl and it being a Monday morning thing instead of a weekend launch, the crowds were gone. We got to relax and actually visit Kennedy Space Center, it was a much more peaceful night. Once out to the causeway, the weather looked worse, however it was less dynamic. Weather remained 60% go all night until the 9 minute hold. Clouds thinned out, polling took place, everyone is go for launch! This thing is going! 1200 miles, 2 nights of waiting for a few minutes of glory, it was worth it, the sights and sounds are amazing. There is still time to see a shuttle launch, if you can make it to Florida for one of the 4 remaining, I highly recommend going.

I’ll shut up now and show you the pictures. These pictures were taken from the NASA Causeway viewing area, roughly 7 miles from the shuttle. I’m using my sigma 500mm lens zoomed all the way in, all settings were on manual. The atmosphere didn’t allow for any stellar pictures, but I didn’t care really. I had it setup on my tripod with remote shutter in hand, I wasn’t going to watch this through the camera. I just waited for sparks to fly and clicked away until it was out of the camera’s view. If you were to look at 100% crops of these you would see there are NO strait lines. Even with your bare eyes you could see the shuttle flickering in the distance. I believe it was worse than normal due to air temps in the low 40’s and water temps in the 70’s. So I’m shooting across 7 miles of heat waves basically. Anyhow, pictures:

The fellow I went with just uploaded the video he took using a few of his camera’s to the youtubes! Enjoy:

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Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 4:14 am in category Images

4 Responses to “Space Shuttle Endeavour – last night launch”

  1. tim Says:

    awesome man, so awesome :) so whats the plan after this year to get shit up to the IST?

  2. Becky Says:

    So cool, Chi… Thank you for helping to give David something he has wanted in YEARS… I mean the shuttle launch … sheesh. Love you!

  3. Jim Says:

    Great trip. You will never regret the effort it took to get these memories. Thanks for sharing with Mom and I .

  4. chris Says:

    Hey thanks for the comments guys!

    Tim: They can send STUFF via unmanned rockets. For the short term we will buy rides from the russians to get people up and back. Russians can also send stuff.

    Becky: Sure, the shuttle launch. Most thanks needs to go to suz who schemed to get him down here. A shuttle launch is pretty much the ONLY thing that could have possibly pealed that boy away from Suz’s side with out some sort of fight :P It was really the only option.

    Dad: Always a pleasure!

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