It was a dark and windy night. But then the Xenon spotlights hit space shuttle Discovery as it inched out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, lighting up the darkness. The lights didn’t help the wind any, but the gleaming shuttle stack on top of the crawler/transporter was a beautiful sight to behold. I was told that first motion of the shuttle out of the VAB hasn’t been open to the press for many years, (since the return to flight mission in 1988) and so I felt privileged to witness the event. Especially stunning was a unique silhouette shadow of the shuttle stack that formed against the clouds as the spotlights glared (see below). Photographer Alan Walters and I both snapped some shots, and I’ve now updated this post to include daylight photos of Discovery at the pad.
I’m feeling pretty smug about this shot! I talked to some other photographers who weren’t able to capture the shadow effect in the clouds. For once, my dinky little camera out-performs the big guys! But the shadow/silhouette was a very cool thing to see, indeed. One of the people at the press site, a veteran of over 60 rollouts, said he had never seen anything like that before!
As I drove out of the KSC press site, Discovery rolling out to the pad was visible in my rear view mirror! No rest for the sleepy (it is 3 am local time as I post this) — will get about 2 hours sleep, then head back out to KSC to see Discovery at the pad in daylight.
UPDATE: Here are the daylight photos!
About a half an hour later, we returned to the launchpad to do some interviews, and just as we finished the sun came out! So here is a “sunshine” photo of Discovery.