Wednesday, June 5, 2002  [!]

Oh, was it ever worth the wait! We had to extend our travel plans by a day, and are we glad, eversoglad we did!

It's late, tomorrow's an early travel day, so here are some pix.

yellow ticket clearing:
When they first handed us yellow tickets on the day of the tour of Kennedy Space Center, I didn't realize how cool it was to have them. They said Banana Creek Viewing Site on the back. Banana Creek (3 miles from launchpad) is where the NASA VIPs and Astronaut Families view the launch. The yellow tickets weren't the same as regular Space Center Visitor tickets, and on the launch day, there were a bunch of people with green tickets, too. The green tickets are for Causeway viewing—6 miles away. I think the price of those is pretty reasonable, so if you ever get the chance to go to Kennedy Space Center on the day of a launch, and you can manage to get tickets to view from the Causeway, DO IT!

clocks n launch pad:
Here is the view at Banana Creek (yellow box is of the launchpad); in the foreground the countdown clocks are frozen at 9 minutes (called 9 minutes and holding), where the countown is held in place while the final checks for status are taken. The magic words we were waiting for were a bunch of "we are 'go' for launch" from different centers and operations...especially weather!

counting down from 9 minutes:
We all whooped when we heard "9 minutes and holding... 9 minutes and counting" Woo hoo woo hoo, this thing is really happening!!

susan 4-15 and counting:
Here I am in front of the countdown clock at 4 minutes 15 seconds and counting.

by this time I've put the 3x adapter for the launch. Here the engines have fired.

barely clear tower:
Endeavor clears the tower

clear tower:
This is still before the time we're starting to hear the sound. LOUD, rumbling, crackling.

Then it climbed —fast (by the time the shuttle clears the tower it's moving at 100 mph, and in next to no time we heard "the shuttle is now 9 miles high") and alas, the shuttle disappeared behind a large single cloud. Hey! Down in front... Then, after a bit, the shuttle appeared, way up high from behind.

peeking from high cloud:
That shuttle climbed a whole lotta atmosphere while it was hidden behind that cloud!

plume afterwards bottom:
Here's the plume (bottom half of the field of view) after the shuttle disappeard from sight.

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Then the bus took us back to Kennedy Space Center where we watched some of the NASA launch footage and saw live press briefings.

[ NASA Awards banquet and Cocoa Beach | Way Cool Space Flight Awareness Reception and pictures of astronauts | Tour of Kennedy Space Center | Report about Scrubbed Launch (still to come from that day: Pictures of Saturn V facility) ]