Friday, November 14, 2008

Night Launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour

We went to Titusville to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor for mission STS-126. It was the last scheduled night launch before the space shuttle program is retired in 2010.

(Click on photos for larger images.)

The moon rose behind the launch pad area early in the evening. We were across the Indian River about 12 miles away. Launch pad LC-39B is on the left and LC-39A is near the right edge of the photo. LC-39A has shuttle Endeavour on it ready for launch and is illuminated by spotlights .

The moon was orange and looked huge (magnified by moisture in the Earth's atmosphere at the horizon). Its size appeared smaller as it rose higher and the color brightened to white.

The launch lit the sky like the rising sun. We couldn't see the spacecraft. It looked like a big ball of white light that momentarily turned night into day.

After lift-off we saw a long amber flame as it passed by the moon. It wasn't until then that we heard the sound which started as a crackle and built into a loud rumble. The light from the moon cast a shadow behind the cloud trail. It was a beautiful sight.

The exhaust cloud over our hotel, backlit by the moon, takes on a zig-zag shape as it's torn up by the wind.

Given the political climate in the world today, I wonder when we'll be going back to the moon.


Travel Recommendation
We opted to stay the night in Titusville rather than sit in traffic. If you go to see a space shuttle launch I highly recommend avoiding State Route 528 (the Beeline) towards Orlando. It can take 4 hours just to get to the first tollbooth.

YouTube Videos - turn your speakers on

See you later, buddy 2:43

Big Rumble 1:29

Moonlight and shuttle launch over water 1:50

NASA Video 10:01

No comments:

Post a Comment