difficult goal of our quest, the boarding area for the Banana Creek VIP
with Lexie and Mary at the Banana Creek viewing site on the day of an
and Lexie in the Banana Creek grandstand on the day of an STS-108 scrub
rainbow in the sky at Banana Creek becomes a bad omen for this STS-108
tourist photo opportunity before boarding the Banana Creek bus on the
day of the STS-108 launch
Poised For Liftoff On Pad 39-B
a manual focus override, the autofocus of the camera is overwhelmed by
locates the setting sun
snakes its way to orbit
streaks down range
Leaves Behind A Tangerine Dream (Note two white dots to upper left
indicate SRB Sep
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.