Tuesday, October 23, 2007

STS-120 Shuttle Discovery Launch

We had to be at the Kennedy Space Center at 6am for the 11:38am launch. It was dark and the shuttle was lit up. It looked something like this. This picture is a painting in a NASA art gallery.

Kennedy Space Center entrance on launch day. The Discovery flag flies with the American flag.

We are 6 miles from the launchpad on a causeway across a bay on NASA property. You can see the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) in the background. The launchpad is off camera to the right. This place is the closest the public can get to a shuttle launch.

Shuttle Discovery clears the launchpad. We saw movement before we could hear it. The sound was much louder than at previous locations. It wasn't an earpiercing noise; it was a low rumble that shook you inside and out. Crackling sounds like a giant bonfire faded as the shuttle rose farther up into the sky.

Here's the launch sequence patched together. (Click on any of the photos in the blog for larger images.)

The cloud clears the launchpad. We could smell it. An announcement over the P.A. system said that we could be affected by hydrochloric acid fumes from the launch. If we felt like we had sore throats a drink of water would clear it up. I felt a minor irritation and a few sips of Pepsi washed it away.

The roll.

This is another painting from the NASA art gallery. If I were to make a composite of my experience watching the launch it would look something like this. There were people with cameras everywhere. The orange flame from the shuttle cut through clouds set against a blue sky.

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