Tag Archives: launch

The Friday launch of two NASA satellites designed to study the Van Allen radiation belts was scrubbed at least 24 hours because of the failure of ground tracking equipment needed during launch.

The Friday launch of two NASA satellites designed to study the Van Allen radiation belts was scrubbed at least 24 hours because of the failure of ground tracking equipment needed during launch.

Europe successfully launched its third unmanned freighter to ISS early this morning.

Europe successfully launched its third unmanned freighter to ISS early this morning.

The 13-ton cargo freighter is loaded with about 7.2 tons of supplies, including food, water, clothing, experiments and fuel for the space station, according to NASA. The unmanned ATV-3 is the heaviest load of cargo ever delivered to the station by a robotic spacecraft, ESA officials said in a statement.

If you schedule a launch they will come

We arrived at Space View Park in Titusville at around 9 pm, bringing with us camp chairs, a softside cooler with food, cameras, tripods, and light jackets. I also brought a light fleece sleeping bag for additional warmth. Even though it was still twelve hours before launch, the entire shoreline was occupied by a line of people either sitting or lying on blankets or pads. Back from the water and under the trees there were more than a dozen small tents set up.

We found a spot where the line was only one deep and set up our chairs. In front of us were a group of Floridians who had never seen a launch up close, though they told us how they had often watched shuttle launches from their front door. As one of them said, “There won’t be many more chances to see this, so we decided we better come down.”

Also set up in the park under a tarp was a electronic setup with television feeds and speakers linked to NASA TV, run by the Space Walk of Fame Foundation, a volunteer organization that maintains Space View Park and the monuments to space that are on display there.

Christmas lights and VAB

Looking east out across the Indian River was Merritt Island, with the launchpad lit up like a Christmas tree eleven miles distant. To the right was the VAB.
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The launch

After fifty years of following space, I finally saw a big rocket launch today. Below is one of the pictures I took of Endeavour as it roared into the sky.

The experience was immensely satisfying, to put it mildly. Watching the shuttle rise up on a column of flame and smoke made me feel young again, my heart racing with excitement. Then Endeavour disappeared into the clouds, and we stood waiting for the roar of liftoff to travel the eleven miles to us. The long wait made this experience far different from what one sees on television. Then the rumble arrived, deep and low, but not as loud as I expected. One experienced launch-watcher explained that the low clouds and humidity might have muffled the sound. Bob Rose said that it was what he expected for this location, and that my expectations were based on those who experienced the launch from the press site at three miles. I think Bob is almost certainly right.

Later today I will put up a longer post, describing what it was like to stand among like-minded space nuts who had traveled from far and wide to see a crew of humans leave the Earth’s gravity and help trace a warm line of life across barren space.

Endeavour's launch

On the way to the Cape

As I write this I am sitting in the back seat of Bob & Brenda Rose’s minivan as we drive down to Florida for Monday’s shuttle launch. We plan to arrive at Space View Park in Titusville around 8 pm Sunday to claim a good location for seating, waiting, and watching the launch. We will be about 11 miles away, but this park is considered one of the better locations for the general public, with a clear view of the launchpad.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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