I am still shaking and still awestruck! I just witnessed my first rocket launch and my first space shuttle launch which also happens to be the last night launch for the space shuttle program. It was absolutely the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. When the SRB’s lit, night literally turned into day. The shuttle moved silently upward until the sound wave reached — and hit me — a couple of seconds later. I could feel the power of the launch from 3 miles away. The crackling and popping was amazingly loud, and the noise endured a very long time. So, so, so absolutely incredible! I wish I could better relate the awesomeness of seeing a shuttle launch! All I can say is that seeing the launch in person is nothing like watching it on TV or on your computer screen. But, I’ve embedded the video below, since I have run out or superlatives.

I was going to try and take a couple of pictures, but I ended up instead taking NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden’s advice to just suck it up and enjoy the experience of the launch and not try to capture it on film — just let the professionals do that. (And yes, Charlie, I cried, too!) So the image above was taken by fellow journalist Rich Yaeger who graciously shared his image with Universe Today. Thanks Rich! Check out Rich’s blog.

Also, check out Robert Pearlman’s picturesque shot on CollectSPACE

And here’s another great launch image from Alan Walters:

STS-130 launch. Credit: Alan Walters Photo

7 Replies to “LAUNCH!”

  1. So nothing is ever better for the media than a story with nostalgia. Five down, four to go

    Soon it will all be a part of history. Bring it on.

  2. Got a great view in a cloudless sky here in Tampa. To the naked eye it appeared like a Roman candle with a yellow-orange tongue of fire about two degrees in length. I’d guesstimate the brightness of the ‘head’ of this display at about -2. Easy to spot the SRB separation with 7×35 binos, each booster glowing dull red compared to the much brighter, whitish shuttle engines. Quite a sight with the waning crescent moon hanging low in the southeast….and totally silent.

    Btw, great to see Nancy and Ken’s smiling faces at the postlaunch briefing. That room looked strangely crowded for a 5:30am press briefing! Looking forward to UT’s coverage of STS-130.

  3. I agree that the sound is hard to explain. The best I can describe it is like a very close lightning strike, but continuous. It feels like being punched in the chest over and over again. You can watch the shock waves coming towards you on the water. All are signs of unfathomable force.

    With only a few shuttle missions left, I hope the next generation of manned spacecraft are just as exciting to witness.

  4. I thought that photo was no good. Thanks for recognizing it, I’m liking it now. Did you see my iPhone pic on my blog?

  5. i was there too! I was 6 miles away on the Causeway. This is my second launch, I was there a couple years ago for STS-117 also. FAN-TASTIC!
    Here is my low quality video I show with my little pocket digital camera. I wasn’t aiming at any fancy photos or anything, I watched it while just holding the camera.


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