Friday, April 17, 2009

From The Sublime............

Right now I'm watching the Space Shuttle Endeavour leaving the VAB on it's slow journey out to Launch Pad 39B to be readied for it's mission to the International Space Station (STS-127) in early June. In a few hours time there will then be a ' never to be repeated' photo opportunity because the Space Shuttle Atlantis is already on Launch Pad 39A ready for it's mission to the Hubble Telescope (STS-125) early next month and so once the RSS (Rotating Service Structure) is rolled back, both shuttles will be on their respective pads at the same time. Wooohoooo.

If you're into that sort of thing.  

And anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that I am. Sadly I can't be there to see it myself but even if I was in the area, I'd not be allowed in as this event will be covered by press only.  When I was there last November, I took some photos when close to Pad 39A and below you'll see one of the 2 huge 'crawler' vehicles used to transport the shuttle and it's service tower from the VAB (seen in the background) along that road just behind the vehicle.

This next photo shows Pad 39A as it was last November when nothing much was going on. Of course if there had been a nice big shuttle thingy out there we'd not have been on a tour in the first place so fair enough.

And just in case NASA or the press mob don't get a decent photo of both shuttles on their pads, here is one I took earlier............

Ok that last one wasn't taken by me. I haven't got a head for heights for a start but I like that God threw in a rainbow just to make an already special photograph even more so. 

Any similar photographs taken today will look much different from the one above as Pad 39B has already been altered to prepare it for the next generation of rocket launches, the Ares series. Three huge lightning mast towers are already in place and can clearly be seen anytime NASA TV shows the launch pad area.

The shuttle fleet is due to be retired next summer so after these two launches, there will only be 6 more opportunities to see these incredible vehicles in action. I've been fortunate enough to have been to one launch as a paid visitor and seen a few others go up from my winter home in mid Florida and I can tell you it's a spectacle never to be forgotten.

So anyone planning on being in Florida over the next year or so should try and get to see a launch as it will remain in your memory much longer than any ride at Disney World or Universal.

When it comes to awe inspiring visual displays, NASA has Disney beaten all hands down. 


rhymeswithplague said...

We were staying in New Smyrna Beach for a week one time when a shuttle launch was scheduled. We took a 25-mile "lunch cruise" down the Indian River with about 20 other people, accompanied along the way by jumping dolphins and sunning cormorants, and stopped when the Coast Guard wouldn't let us go any further, about three miles from the launch site. Incredible, experiencing the shuttle launch so close and from the middle of the river. When the deafening sound waves arrived I could feel them entering my chest and leaving through my back.

Thanks for reminding me of one of my most special experiences.

Daphne said...

I was watching NASA TV today of course and saw the lightning mast towers. And whenever any bird flies past, I now think "Perhaps I saw that very bird in real life" - - when I WAS THERE last November. Yes, sad I know but I still can't believe it!

Jay said...

That might almost be enough to get OH to return to Florida!

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