waiting for launch

Thursday, April 29, 2010 | |

waiting for launch

The highlight of my trip in Miami with my friends from Germany was getting to see shuttle Discovery launch on April 5. It was her second-to-last planned launch, and the fourth-to-last overall. It was also the last ever planned night launch--and in civil twilight sunrise too, with a hint of light on the horizon as a backdrop--so I was torn between my first instinct of leaving my camera in its bag for the launch and taking it all in, or trying to get some good pictures.

We arrived in Titusville the night before and camped out in our sleeping bags in an empty yard of a building near Space View Park. This picture is of the people waiting in SVP, but there was no one else at the spot we staked out, less than half a mile away. We were right on the water, with Pad 39A on Cape Canaveral sitting on the horizon, 12 miles away. At some point, I fell asleep waiting for the 6:16 am launch window to begin...

When I woke up, there were 300 people surrounding me, buzzing with excitement, with only half an hour to the launch window. Since it was an ISS mission, timing was crucial. The launch window was only about 30 minutes long and dependent on waiting for the ISS to be passing directly overhead so Discovery could chase it into orbit. Any glitches that caused it to miss the launch window would push the launch back another day...

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