After a long wait and much anticipation, I finally witnessed a Shuttle launch. This was STS-127, the 127th shuttle flight, 23rd for Endeavour and 32nd construction mission to the International Space Station.
I was beginning to think they were something out of myth and legend;-) After two months on the launch pad and five scrubs due to hydrogen leaks, lightning strikes, and generally stormy weather Endeavour finally leaped off the launch pad into the Florida sky at 6:03:24 EDT time this evening. It was a sight to behold!
The long wait ended up being well worth it, because I had an even better view than expected. I had a ticket for viewing from the NASA causeway, which is a road across the Indian River, that ranges from about 6.5 to 7.5 miles from the launch pad. This is where I spent the afternoons on the fourth and fifth launch attempts, and it’s not bad. Today however, NASA made the decision to close the causeway to everyone – still don’t know exactly why. So they took us instead to the alternate viewing site located at the Saturn V rocket exhibit. From here, looking across the Banana River, I was only 3.5 miles from the launch pad – the closest anyone is ever allowed. This is where the family members and other VIPs normally view launches. In the twelve years since the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center has been running the tours and launch viewings, they have never taken a group to this site for launch. What a treat!
And to think, I almost called it quits and went home on Monday. Sure am glad I stayed!