Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The crew of Space Shuttle Endeavor has finally left Earth after two lengthy delays.  The first was a docking schedule problem, the second, an equipment failure.  STS-134, the final launch of the Endeavor, is in the history books.  The crew will dock with the International Space Station early Wednesday morning and will return to earth after 16 days in space.

The weather was overcast and the skies were filled with clouds as we arrived at Kennedy Space Center about 6:30a for the 8:58a launch.  After walking around a bit and taking a few photos, we sat down on the grassy area just north of the Rocket Garden and waited nervously for the final countdown.  I told my friend that with a cloud cover that low in the sky, we probably wouldn’t see much of the actual flight.  Truer words were never spoken.  As the shuttle took off, I had my camera in continuous mode snapping 5 frames per second and only got off three shots before the Shuttle vanished into the clouds above.  Only one showed the entire Shuttle and it was a wide shot, so, I cropped in tight on it in post processing.  It is what it is, no redo allowed.  Oh well.  The best laid plans…and all of that.

I have all the images taken that day and others taken at the Astronaut Hall of Fame... Here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mission NOT Accomplished

When I heard that the Space Shuttle Endeavor would be launching during my stay here in south Florida, I put my name on the “interested” list in December of 2010.  I never really expected to have the opportunity to buy tickets, but in mid February I received a notice that I had made the initial cut.  I still had to hope that I would get a ticket on the day that tickets went on sale, though.  The odds were still not in my favor due to the tremendous interest in the second to last launch of the shuttle program. 

On the day of ticket release, I got on the predetermined website early and waited for my time to buy.  The clock ticked slowly on the wall as I sat, not too patiently, waiting.  Then it came; my time to enter my info into the form on the screen.  There was a time limit so I had to work fast, but I was able to complete the purchase before time ran out.  The tickets were on their way.  Yay!

This last Friday (Apr 29th, 2011) was supposed to be launch day and after checking for any updates, we turned the car north for the 3+ hour drive to Kennedy Space Center and the Visitor’s center there.  Traffic was horrible as we neared the complex and it took us another hour to travel 6 miles.  We had arrived and walked quickly to find a spot on the grass to put our chairs.  While waiting, a couple of us walked over to the Nasa Store to buy some things.  I got the mug that’s shown above.  I didn’t notice until we returned to the grassy area that the back of the mug has three words in blue ink.  “Endeavor”, “Mission”, “Accomplished”.  I immediately had a bad feeling about the launch scheduled that day.  Could’ve been a G.W. Bush flashback.  “Accomplished”?

After a 4-hour road trip up to KSC, 1-hour waiting in line to pay for my mug, and another 2 hours waiting on the grass, the launch was scrubbed for the day due to a wiring problem.  You can imaginethe somber mood of the crowd leaving the space center that day.

 If time allows, I may do it all again on another, as yet unannounced, launch day.  After all, I’ve already got the mug.