Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Launch!!

Getting up at 3am proved to be a bigger challenge than I was expecting. Since I normally go to bed around 3am, I tried to alter my sleeping habits a few nights in a row to be ready for the 3am wake up call, but I failed miserably. I only got about 3 hours sleep.

No matter, I got up, gathered together the people who were riding with me and we managed to arrive on time at the Sheriff's office on Merritt Island a few hours later.

Why the Sheriff's office?  Because a friend of mine got us included in a launch party that this particular office hosts for each shuttle launch.  We met at the office then we proceeded to be a part of a Police escort all the way to our special viewing area.

The photo above shows the view we had.  The actual launch pad was off to the left, out of frame.

The line up :)

The clouds rolled in and we were afraid it might make it impossible for the launch to take place.  Thankfully that wasn't the case.

The six of us from the transplant community that attended the event.  We left a gap so that the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) was visible in the background.  I think we may need to blow this photo up to poster size to actually see the building!

In case your eyesight isn't that good, here's the building.

At 8:56am the shuttle launched!  You had to pay attention because we were about 3 miles away so the sound didn't reach us right away. 

I'm so happy that I my camera because I couldn't actually see the shuttle with my naked eye.  It wasn't until I looked at my photos that I saw it. 

Still no sound.
A bird flew up and I remember thanking him for being in the photo. 

The shuttle has turned and is building speed.  Less than 30 seconds has gone by so far.

It was at this point that the first hint of the launch sounds started coming our way.  I was really hoping that the booster rockets would peel off at this point (although I knew it was too soon) because the clouds were so low and we wouldn't get to see any more.

and I was right.  This was all we were able to see.  The birds have flown up out of the grasses due to the loud roaring sound of the fuel rockets and the subsequent rumbling of the Earth.

It was truly a remarkable experience.  It was worth the sleepless night, the two and a half hour drive each way, the low cloud cover,  and the pretty much worthless rest of the day!

There is one more shuttle launch, the Atlantis in July.  Maybe another administration will bring back the shuttle or maybe it will evolve into something new.  Whatever happens, I'm so grateful to have been a part of this launch.

Thanks so much to the Shook family for inviting us to attend this event and to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office for taking good care of us and showing us a really great time.



Ann in the UP said...

Good narrative and super pictures. It's hard to grasp what an experience it is to be there.

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for sharing those photos.......They are amazing...>Did you see the photo on Yahoo! news? Some woman took a photo out the window of an airplane or something. I didn't think that would be possible because of air regulations (a plane being so close to a space shuttle)

Keetha Broyles said...

I'm sooooo glad you did this AND shared it with us.

Jealous that I never got to experience it - - -

Keetha Broyles said...

Oh yah - - - please tell my BIL Joe that it was real and not all just a big hoax, OK?

42N said...

Great coverage. Love the photos!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Thank you for all the awesome pictures. How wonderful that you got to experience that. It was well worth the lack of sleep!