STS-127 Launch Pictures

Jul 15 2009 Published by under Life in an Army Family, Misc

I just saw a shuttle launch! I haven't been this excited since Christmas Eve, 1985!

I would have mentioned I was going to the launch ahead of time here, but things happened kinda quick. Here's a condensed version of events:

As you might expect, there's extensive medical support at shuttle launches. One of the layers of support falls more or less into the "let's really, really, really hope we don't need these guys" category - medical personnel who support a rescue operation, if one is needed. Many of the doctors who work those standbys are military personnel, because the job description requires a bunch of stuff - flight certification, water survival training, that sort of thing - that aren't part of the average residency training program.

My wife is certified to provide that sort of shuttle medical support. Yesterday, she was asked to get down to KSC if at all possible today, because they were going to be short of people if the mission got bumped to tomorrow. She spent the rest of yesterday and part of this morning getting all the permissions in order, and at 8:30 this morning - CDT - we had the family in the car and on the way from Ft. Rucker to the space center. We rolled in to Space View Park in Titusville at about 4:45 this afternoon, EDT, and were in time to secure decent viewing spots along the Indian River for the 6:03 launch.

The launch went off on schedule, and definitely was one of those experiences - even at a distance of 10 miles - that can't be fully captured. You really do have to be there.

Some of the pictures I took of the launch are below the fold:

The pictures have been cropped and converted to jps from raw, but I haven't had time to try to enhance them in any other way. You can click on the images for larger versions. The pictures were taken with a Canon XSi and a Canon 75-300mm zoom lens.






Time permitting (and it may not), I'll get a few others up later.

11 responses so far

  • John Lynch says:

    Sweet, Mike. I am envious.

  • Taylor says:

    Saw a nighttime shuttle launch back in 1999 (I think) and as you say it is a memorable event. The long wait is part of the fun, the feeling of shared excitement, the NASA helicopters doing fly-bys, the countdown, the aftermath as the PA tells us the Shuttle is already halfway around the world as we start breaking up....

  • Ian says:

    Unfortuantely, now they're concerned (again) about "debris" falling off the main tank which may (or may not) have damaged the shuttle.

  • Eamon Knight says:

    I haven't been this excited since Christmas Eve, 1985!
    And what was it that you got for Christmas that year?

  • Jim Collins says:

    I am even more envious than most. My wife and three teen age kids and I delayed the return from our Florida vacation one extra day to see the launch. We got to Space View Park at 12:15PM on Sunday. Stayed there all day in the heat only to have thunderstorms roll in at the last minute. They cancelled just 10 minutes prior to launch. Since we stayed an extra day, we had to drive straight through going home. It made for a really long 1100 mile trip. You lucky dog!

  • Mike Dunford says:

    @Eamon: You know, I honestly can't remember. I was thinking that was the X-Wing year, but Return of the Jedi was 1983. But I just got back to Alabama - 37.5 hours after leaving to go to the launch - so my brain may still be in transit.
    @Jim: Yeah, luck had a heck of a lot to do with it. Sorry things didn't work out as well for you.

  • KeithB says:

    While I am not sure what a trauma surgeon would do given the results of most rocket accidents, I am glad your wife wasn't actually needed...
    Oh, and I am jealous, too.

  • Mike Dunford says:

    Actually, my wife's finished residencies in family medicine and aerospace/preventative med, but like most flight surgeons, she's not actually a surgeon. (The title goes back to a time when the military referred to any doctor as a surgeon regardless of specific training.)
    There are apparently a number of launch and landing scenarios that would lead to the possibility of actual rescues, including several that involve the shuttle crew parachuting into the ocean.

  • Crudely Wrott says:

    That next to the last shot is wonderful. The straight exhaust trail after the initial roll. The engine flames. The clouds behind. Whew! Nice.
    To your wife: Thanks for your service and hard work.

  • Something about these photos is much more immediate than the humdrum of TV coverage. Thanks!

  • They cancelled just 10 minutes prior to launch.