The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

STS-132 Launch

I finally got to see a shuttle launch up close and personal yesterday.  I got to the VIP viewing area at Banana Creek a little over three miles from launch pad 39A.  I was in the area immediately south of the Saturn V building for those of you familiar with the area.

The bus got us there about 12:30 for a 2:20 launch.  The crowd was pretty big and lines were long at the gift shop and food…I got a couple of things at the gift shop and didn’t fight for food!  The shuttle pilot’s mother was in the gift shop of all places buying stuff.  I chatted with her in line (we moved her to the front of the line).  Come on NASA…give her some free swag!

The countdown went smoothly.  I was standing in front of the speakers, so I couldn’t hear them well, but it was obvious when they gave good news about the countdown.  I had my camera set up but didn’t take a lot of photos.  Want to experience most of it.  I had it set to burst, but made the mistake of leaving the autofocus on.  The launch was so bright, the autofocus was overwhelmed and the camera quit focusing and didn’t take pictures continuously like I wanted.  Still here is what I did get.

View from where I watched.

The launch.

Just a few observations.  First, I was expecting a silent launch, that is no shuttle sound, for the first 15 seconds or so.  However, I was surprised to hear the engines start at the same time we saw them…they pumped the sound over the PA system!  Obviously, we heard the REAL SOUND about 15 seconds later when it got to us and that was much louder!  You could watch the sound wave come across the water and see birds taking off as it approached.

Second, the shuttle moves quick.  Watching it on television doesn’t give you a good sense of how quickly the shuttle goes out of sight since the television cameras use long zoom lenses to track it.  They could get this across better using a single lens.

I had a pair of binoculars so I could track it longer than most and watched the SRBs on their return to Earth.

Better than Disney!


May 16, 2010 - Posted by | NASA, Space Flight

1 Comment »

  1. […] STS-132 Launch « The Half-Astrophysicist Blog […]

    Pingback by Carl Sagan 4th Dimension Explanation | May 17, 2010 | Reply

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