Unique Perspective: Shuttle Launch as Seen from Airplane, Balloon, and Freefall

Article written: 28 Feb , 2011
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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I thought I had a great view of space shuttle Discovery’s final launch, seeing it from the Kennedy Space Center press site. But there were a few other people who had a pretty unique perspective on the launch. A passenger on an airplane, Neil Monday, who was flying out of the Orlando, Florida airport, recorded the shuttle launch with his iPhone, above. That is just awesome. Want more unique views of the launch?


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The students from Quest For Stars who were attempting to capture an image of Discovery’s launch from a high altitude balloon (see our preview article) were successful and the team has released a couple of images, including the one above. They say they will be releasing the “best of the best” of their images later this week at the Next Generation Suborbital Research conference. They have a great video of their balloon popping, sending their payload into a quick freefall.

Fred Leslie jumps from an aircraft as Discovery lifts off behind him. Image via the Hunstville Times, courtesy of Fred and Kathy Leslie.

Speaking of freefall, former astronaut Fred Leslie and his wife Kathy wanted to do something special to commemorate Discovery’s final launch. They jumped from an aircraft over Deland, Fla., and timed it so they could get a photograph with Discovery taking off in the background. Read more about it in the Huntsville Times.

And of course, if you want to see more launch images, we have a great gallery of the STS-133 launch as seen by our cadre of reporters and photographers who were on hand for Discovery’s historic launch.

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