Entries tagged with “Space Shuttle”.


Today was certainly a day of mixed emotions here on Florida’s Space Coast. Setting aside the financial and political aspects of the program’s termination, many residents here felt an emotional attachment to the space shuttle, and all that it represented. Missions that began with launches utilizing mind numbing force, and ending with a shuttle gliding in for a soft landing, captivated millions over almost 30 years. Well, today saw a landmark day as Space Shuttle Discovery was flown atop a modified 747, to it’s future home at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. For the first ten years of the shuttle program, Edwards Air Force Base in California served as the landing strip at the end of a mission, but since around 1991 landings out there have been limited, mainly due to weather concerns in Cape Canaveral.

But for each of those Edwards landings, the space shuttle was ferried back to Kennedy Space Center on the back of a heavily modified Boeing 747 airplane. Usually Brevard County residents and visitors were provided an up close look as the pilots would fly low along the beaches, or I-95 as a courtesy before landing at Kennedy Space Center. Many times I was out to see and photograph this amazing sight, which to me was much more up close and personal than a launch could ever be, and usually I was surprised at how few other people were as interested. Not so today. I thought I would have an easy ride over to the beach by Patrick Air Force Base, in hopes of seeing Discovery as it turned westward before a final pass over Cocoa Beach and Kennedy Space Center, while beginning it’s journey up the east coast, but I was shocked to see traffic on Pineda Causeway backed up all the way to US1. I didn’t want risk getting stuck in traffic, so I settled into a spot at the boat launch next to the causeway, and waited. The lighting was a little tough with the sun just coming up, but I got a few shots. Hope you enjoy.

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As we wait for the final launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, which was recently rescheduled for November 30th, we will take you back in time to August of 2005. After the Columbia disaster, high above Texas in 2003, the shuttle fleet was grounded as NASA engineers tried to assess the cause of the fatal accident. Two and a half years later, in July of 2005, it was time to fly again. STS-114 was the return to flight mission for the shuttle fleet, and Discovery was the shuttle chosen for this monumental occasion. Discovery lifted off on July 26th from Kennedy Space Center, and after a 2 week mission, landed safely back home at Edwards Air Force Base in California, due to bad weather on Florida’s east coast. On the morning of August 20th Discovery, sitting proudly atop its ride home, made it back to Florida, and on November 30, 2010 will fly for the last time. The picture below is from that day in August 2005. Hope you enjoy!!3791a - Copy

Once again, the Space Coast will be the place to be on Monday afternoon, November 1st, as Space Shuttle Discovery, and its 6 person crew, blasts off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, on an 11 day mission to the International Space Station. STS-133 is the next to last scheduled shuttle launch, signaling an end of an era for America and the Space Coast. If at all possible, you should make your way to Brevard County for a look at history in the making. Along the river in Titusville is a prime viewing area, but my suggestion would be to get to the beach early on Monday afternoon, stake out a spot at Jetty Park or the Cocoa Beach Pier, enjoy the beach, and prepare yourself for the awesome liftoff at around 4:40 pm!!

Update: Launch has been pushed back to Wednesday, Nov. 3rd at 3:52 pm.

Latest Update: Launch pushed back to at least Nov. 30th.

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