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Fred Haise
STS-108

STS-108

 "Let Freedom Roar!"
Photo Credits: Mine
Sign for the Banana Creek Bus Boarding Area
The difficult goal of our quest, the boarding area for the Banana Creek VIP viewing site
Me with Lexie and Mary at the Banana Creek viewing site on the day of a scrub
Me with Lexie and Mary at the Banana Creek viewing site on the day of an STS-108 scrub
Mary and Lexie in the Banana Creek grandstand on the day of an STS-108 scrub
Mary and Lexie in the Banana Creek grandstand on the day of an STS-108 scrub
A rainbow becomes a bad omen for the STS-launch attempt
A rainbow in the sky at Banana Creek becomes a bad omen for this STS-108 launch attempt
A tourist photo op before boarding the Banana Creek bus on launch day
A tourist photo opportunity before boarding the Banana Creek bus on the day of the STS-108 launch
Endeavour is poised for liftoff on launch pad 39B
Endeavour Poised For Liftoff On Pad 39-B
Liftoff of Endeavour on STS-108
Without a manual focus override, the autofocus of the camera is overwhelmed by Endeavour's plume
Endeavour Locates The Setting Sun
Endeavour Snakes Its Way To Orbit
Endeavour locates the setting sun
Endeavour snakes its way to orbit
Endeavour flies downrange
Endeavour streaks down range
Endeavour leaves behind a tangerine dream
Endeavour Leaves Behind A Tangerine Dream (Note two white dots to upper left indicate SRB Sep
Rain showers stream from the contrail
Acid rain showers stream from teh contrail
My wife, my 6 year old granddaughter, and I actually did get to see the launch of STS-108 from the Banana Creek viewing site at KSC.

It was looking pretty bleak when the postponed the launch on Thursday due to the problem with the Progress docking.

Fortunately for us we had planned on doing Disney for four days after the initial launch date so we were still in the area when the decision was made to try for Tuesday.

With the unprecedented security for this launch I was concerned that it was going to be a very large hassle to get to the visitors center to pick up our bus boarding passes.  It turned out to be not so bad.  We really did not get stuck in any serious traffic at the main KSC gate so we were at the visitors center before we knew it.

I had never seen a launch before from the Banana Creek site which is next to the Saturn V building, but it provides an excellent view of Pad 39B being slightly over 3 miles away.

 The chances for Tuesday didn't look very good to us, with all of the clouds that were in the area.  Having been through scrubs before, I wasn't optimistic but was hopeful that some how a miracle would happen and the could would part in time for liftoff.

Viewing from the Banana Creek site was also pretty nice because the Saturn V building was opened up and we could go through the exhibits and get food and drinks from their concession stand.


It's also a rather unique experience because this area is also where many of the astronauts family members view the launch from.  Their seating is kept separate and private from the regular NASA guests, but everyone has access to the Saturn V building, so there is an opportunity to mingle before the launch.

As the scheduled launch time got closer on Tuesday, we sat down in the viewing stands. At one point a rainbow appeared in the sky.  While this was very beautiful, it wasn't a good sign for the launch attempt. A little while later a few sprinkles started falling on us.

I'm sure everyone is well aware that the clock was counted down to T-5 and then the launch was scrubbed due to moisture in the clouds.

I was pretty heart broken when the announcement came because it had been such a tough process for us to actually get viewing passes for the launch.  That story alone would fill pages. :(

I wasn't so disappointed for myself but I really wanted my 6 year old granddaughter to see this launch. Over the years we have become friends of Linda Godwin, so I really wanted my granddaughter to see a launch of Linda's in person at an age where she would remember it.

At first I thought that would be our last chance even with the 24 our turn around.  Our airline reservations had us leaving Orlando before Wednesday's launch time.  After some soul searching we rearranged our travel and accommodations to leave at O'dark thirty on Thursday morning.  That gave us one more launch viewing window.

The weather Wednesday at Noon around KSC didn't look a lot better to me than Tuesday, but I think there were a few less clouds at that point.  The visitors center at KSC was absolutely barren.  It wasn't too crowded for Tuesday's attempt, but obviously many people had gone home and were not going to try for Wednesday.

Out at the Saturn V building again the reduced crowds were even more evident.  I don't know for sure how many buses they had for people out there, but it may have been on the order of about 5 or 6.  Seemingly about one third of what it had been on Tuesday.


A very touching moment for me occurred when they asked everyone in the grandstand to rise for the national anthem.  I was thinking of the brave soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and the ultimate sacrifices that they have made. With the Star Spangled Banner playing, looking at the American flag and the shuttle on the pad was almost too much.  I had tears in my eyes.

The count proceeded very smoothly, but I wasn't about to start believing until we finally got under T-10 seconds.
 
The call from Endeavour's commander to "Let Freedom Roar" was very poignant.

Then we have ignition.  What a view, what a view!  My only complaint about launches is that once it starts, it's all over much too quickly.  Sometimes I think the brain needs a slow motion button.

The sound from this launch even at three miles from where we were was very mild.  I expect the strong wind had a lot to do with that.

With the lighting conditions as they were the launch trail created by the SRBs was one of the more spectacular that I have seen.  From gray on the bottom through various shades of oranges to brilliant white at the top.  My granddaughter thought the top looked like whipped cream.

Soon we were back on the bus to return to the visitors center.  They request that you reboard the buses right after SRB sep.  It seemed very rushed that way and almost made the event anticlimactic.  With the stiff wind blowing the launch cloud in our direction though, being in the comfort of the bus probably was not a bad idea.

So now, I am 5 for 5 on shuttle launches, having witnessed the launches of STS-59, STS-76, STS-84, STS-95, and now STS-108. 

Most importantly though, my granddaughter was able to watch somebody that she knows ride rocket into space.


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UPDATED : January 10, 2007
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