Friday, May 14, 2010

Blue Sky for Last Launch of Shuttle Atlantis for STS-132

We got lucky and were able to get tickets to the NASA Causeway to view the shuttle launch from about 6 miles away.  The sky was blue and it was a beautiful day for a launch.  This was to be the last launch for Shuttle Atlantis.  The crew of mission STS-132 is delivering a Russian module for the International Space Station.

People at the NASA Causeway before launch.  The Vehicle Assembly Building is on the horizon.

Everything was go for launch until the last meeting before launch called the 9 Minute Hold.  A small 1/8" ball bearing was discovered in the payload bay.   The bearing had come loose from a camera.  They were discussing whether or not it created a "No Go" constraint for launch.  When it came time for rollcall, everyone responded, "Go."  The flight director wished the crew of Atlantis godspeed, and the commander made a short speech.  We saw the access arm and fuel tank beanie retracting.

There were sparks from main engine ignition, and smoke began to rise around the launchpad.

Shuttle Atlantis silently rose above the launch tower.

The space shuttle ascended into the sky on a long orange flame.  It was beautiful.  We heard a rumbling sound about 30 seconds after liftoff.

The rumbling sound built up to a loud roar accented by pops, bangs, and claps.

Three pinpoints of light show Solid Rocket Booster separation.

The wind started to blow apart the contrail very quickly.  The top part of the cloud formed into a loop.

Here we are with the dissipating contrail on the left side of the photo.

This could be our last time at the NASA Causeway.  There are only two more space shuttle missions left.

More photos of the launch of shuttle Atlantis for STS-132

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