Endeavour Launch 1 – Driving Toward History

by Geoff on May 16, 2011

(Note: More posts on today’s launch are on their way)

As I pulled closer to Kennedy Space Center around 3:15 a.m. this morning, traffic sparse but determined, the Vehicle Assembly Building visible from a distance, and the xenon floodlights reaching far beyond launch pad 39A above the tree line to my right, this all felt familiar.

This was my second launch day (due to STS-134 scrub on 4/29), but that’s not why this was familiar.  I began to feel like I was driving right into a scene from Apollo 13 or one of the many film portrayals of the determined Apollo program that entranced the nation 40 years ago.  My mind was flashing to images of the red launch tower and black and white Saturn rockets that carried the United States beyond earth orbit.  Something about the seriousness of the darkness around me reminded me of the mission control workers of the 1960s in their black ties and white, starched dress shirts, huddled over control consoles and adjusting their thick, black glasses as they blazed trails by aiming up.

At this point in my drive, with trees on both sides of the highway and the spotlit Vehicle Assembly Building towering above the tree line, my view was similar to what someone driving to view the Apollo 11 launch in 1969 might have seen.  After all, Apollo 11 launched at 9:32 am ET, just over 35 minutes later than Space Shuttle Endeavour was scheduled to lift-off on its final flight later this morning.

My drive almost complete, I turned onto Kennedy Space Center’s Saturn Causeway and parked in the designated press site parking area, fully aware of the majestic Space Shuttle Endeavour 3.1 miles away, poised for a powerful and graceful launch in a few short hours.

After getting situated at the press site, impressed with the view to the east, I took many pictures (one of which is above) to try to capture not just what I was seeing, but what I was feeling.  With a level of anxiety, I looked forward to the planned launch and final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gene Ryken May 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm

A lot of people would like to have been by your side today, not the least of which is me. Awesome blog, awesome pictures.



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