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STS-72
STS-76
Delta GPS-7

Delta GPS-7

 
Still and video images that my wife and I captured of the Delta GPS-7 launch. 
Photo Credit: Mary and Me
Delta rocket on the launch pad as seen from Jetty Park
Delta rocket on the launch pad as seen from Jetty Park
Ignition of the Delta rocket
Ignition of the Delta rocket lights up the night time sky
The delta rocket pierces the cloud bank
High altitude clouds illuminated by the Delta resemble a retinal scan.
The Delta rocket pierces the cloud bank Illuminated clouds resemble a giant retinal scan
Delta Liftoff Video Frame 0
Delta Liftoff Video Frame 1
Delta GPS-7 Liftoff
Delta GPS-7 Has Cleared The Tower
Delta Liftoff Video Frame 2
Delta Liftoff Video Frame 3
Delta GPS-7 Pierces A Cloud Bank
Delta GPS-7 Illuminates The Cloud Bank
Delta Liftoff Video Frame 4
Delta Liftoff Video Frame 5
Delta GPS-7 On The Other Side
Delta GPS-7 Continues Onward
March 27: 1996

We searched the information at the motel for a restaurant to eat at in the vicinity of Jetty Park. It was from Jetty Park that we intended to watch the launch.  There was a seafood restaurant at Port Canaveral that look promising.  The name of it was "Rusty's".

This restaurant turned out to be a marvelous find for us.  The seafood was great and the prices were inexpensive.  I had the encrusted flounder which was the special that evening and it was very tasty.  Since we were there at happy hour, the drink prices were very reasonable.

Mary and I enjoyed this restaurant a lot. Perhaps even a little too much.  Thankfully it was very close to Jetty Park.  Being the adventuresome type Mary decided to sneak a glass of wine out of the restaurant so that she would have something while waiting for the launch.

At Jetty Park we found that quite a few people were there anticipating the launch.  For a short while we walked along the beach.  It soon be came obvious that the prime viewing location for the launch would be on the jetty that sticks out into the ocean.

The easy thing to do would have been to have gone back to where the jetty starts and enter onto the walk way there.  We however decided that was farther than we wanted to walk so we entered the jetty from on the beach.

Traversing up the rocks to the walkway was a little treacherous.  An older gentleman was kind enough to stop and offer Mary a hand for crossing over the protective railing.  Before I knew it, Mary was cautioning the gentleman to be careful so that he didn't spill her wine.

As we waited for the launch, I noticed a person that we had seen a few days before at the Epcot theme park.  Now the reason that this person stood out to me was that he had a hat on from STS-59.  This wasn't just any hat, but appeared to be a hat that would have been obtained from the mom and pop t-shirt shop in Houston that the astronauts dealt with.  I had the very same hat from when we attended the STS-59 launch.

Based upon this knowledge, I began to think that this person must be related to one of the astronauts that was on both STS-59 and STS-76.  The two overlapping candidates were either our friend Linda or else Jay Apt.  This man had a certain resemblance to Jay, so I deduced that might be his father.

Being the shy person in our family I dispatched my emissary Mary to find out, if that was Jay's dad.  Off Mary went while I set up the cameras for recording the Delta launch.  In a short while Mary came back and informed me that I owed her big time. 

As it turned out the person was not Jay's dad.  Not only that, but the person was not even from America, he was from France and did not speak English.  So much for my logical deduction.  How or why this person who was in Florida at the time of STS-76 was wearing a hat from the STS-59 mission of two years ago, I have no earthly idea.  I guess it was just one of those amazing coincidences.  My emissary did not appreciate the humor in our little foray into international diplomacy.

We arrived at Jetty Park before the Sun went down.  Now it was after the Sun had set and it was fairly dark.  You could see the Delta perched on the launch pad waiting for the commands that would send it skyward.  The sky itself was overcast with a fairly low layer of clouds.

In the distance the base of the rocket flickered as it came to life to hurl itself away from the Earth.  As if the Sun was rising the bright flame from the rocket removed the darkness. Upward the rocket flew until it pierced the cloud bank like an arrow from an archer.

A recorded soundtrack of the crowd watching this launch is the only thing that could do the description of what we saw justice.  What a stupendous view this was.  As the rocket disappeared from view, the clouds burst into flames.  Well the weren't on fire, but the lighting effects from the rocket exhaust made it appear that way.

You could see the contrail from the rocket angling up from the ground into the illuminated cloud bank.  For all the world, this looked like the straightest tornado funnel cloud that I had ever seen.

As it rose higher the clouds thinned out briefly and you could once again see the flames from the exhaust and the contrail.  All to soon the rocket was obscured by the clouds not to be seen again.

The absolutely had to be the most spectacular rocket launch that I ever saw.  I was now four for four on launches.  Up to that point in my life, I had attempted to view two shuttles launches.  I was fortunate enough to see both of them.  I had attempted to view two unmanned launches and I was fortunate enough to view both of those.  My track record for shuttle landings though was at the opposite end of the spectrum.  I had attempted to view the STS-59 landing and it went to California instead.  Would STS-76 change my landing luck?


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UPDATED : February 1, 2007
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