Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March 11, 2008 Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Endeavor Liftoff

We actually witnessed history at 2:38 AM this morning. We saw the last night lift-off of a space shuttle, The Endeavor, and one of the last lift-offs of this entire program. It was spectacular. We went with two of our MOC friends, Rich and Helen, and arrived last night around 8:30 PM so that we could get a good position. We went to a local park right across the Indian River from the launch pad. The pad was about five miles away but, because we were looking over the water, it looked much closer. We saw the event from the steamy start to the disappearance into the clouds. When we arrived, the sky was clear and about midnight, the clouds started coming in. They were not bad enough to scrub the mission, though, and it was grand. When we arrived, there were people around but we were actually surprised at the low numbers. Then, as the night progressed, the numbers began to swell. We had the park and a sidewalk behind us and a marshland and the river in front of us. This made for some beautiful shots of the booster rockets flaming images being reflected in the river. Although we were 5 miles away, it seemed much closer, probably because we were watching over the water. First came the smoke (steam?) then the flames, then the lift-off. OMG, as the kids would say, it was beautiful. The crowd, as with the crowd that we were part of for the last space shot a few weeks ago, cheered and clapped upon lift-off. A truly happy group of people from around the world. Because of our close proximity, we could see everything from steam to lift-off. Because of our distance of five miles and slight breeze over the water, it took a long time for the loud roar to reach us. The cloud cover was low so the shuttle disappeared quickly but grandly. Several minutes later, as we were leaving, we looked back at the pad and saw that it was still smoking/steaming. Also as we were leaving, we were amazed at how huge the crowd had grown into. It took us a long time to get out of Titusville proper and then another huge traffic jam on I-95 at the Orlando and points west exit, which was probably five more miles away from the main part of the original traffic jam. It took us an extra hour and a half to get home because of the traffic. It was truly worth the wait, though. We were able to photographically memorialize this experience, from our MOC amigos to the lift-off, and can share some of it with you now. ENJOY!

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