Three, Two, One, Blast…Down?

The year was 2006.  The month, July.  My son Jeremy, my sister Michelle, and I packed up a picnic lunch and headed to Cocoa Beach to watch the space shuttle Discovery launch on its journey toward the International Space Station.  The third of July was a hot day like any other.  We clocked it being around 114° F during one point.

The funny story I was going to tell you today was about how we waited forever to see the shuttle launch, and there were no public restrooms anywhere on the crowded causeway.  So we all ended up taking turns in the backseat using the container that had held our potato salad as a urinal!  But when I told my sister that I was going to share that, she vetoed me and insisted that I tell you about what happened the next day instead.

See NASA in the background?

Being professional photographers, of course we had tons of photo equipment, but at that point, it was all still film.  A couple of months prior, we were forced to stop photographing at a Bon Jovi concert because we had “professional cameras,” and only “point and shoots” were allowed.  So we ventured into the digital photography world and purchased our first digital cameras which were also capable of taking video.

The July 3 launch was scrubbed, so we went back the following day.  This would be the first time ever that the United States had an Independence Day launch.  Michelle, being a history major, was especially pleased to be witnessing this bit of history making in the progress.

Immediately following blast-off

We decided that I would photograph the launch, and Michelle would videotape it using our new digital cameras.  Well, of course, being a professional photographer, she knew that when taking still shots, you can rotate the camera to either take landscape (horizontal) formats or portrait (vertical) formats.  But what she forgot is that with video recording devices (back then anyway before cell phones were capable of recording digital video), you had to hold the camera horizontally because there was no way to rotate the picture and it will be forever viewed sideways!

Yikes! It’s heading toward the ground! (No, it’s just a sideways photo to give you an idea of what the video looked like.)

So, sure enough, when we got home, excited about seeing the launch, we put my photos and Michelle’s video on the computer and viewed them.  Sadly, when we realized her video was sideways, it looked as if the astronauts had crashed right into the ground!  YIKES!  So, Australia, if you folks see what looks like a shuttle sticking up out of the ground… it probably is!

Michelle’s video looked like this… The trail of smoke started from the side and headed down toward the earth! YIKES!

Talk to me:  Have you ever witnessed a shuttle launch?  Have you ever heard the sonic boom it makes when it enters back into the atmosphere?  If cost weren’t a factor, would you ride on a private passenger space shuttle and go into space for a few days?

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29 thoughts on “Three, Two, One, Blast…Down?

  1. I’ve only seen launches on television, but I heard the booms from Atlantis when it returned from one mission that took it over the Chicago area. I knew it was about to fly over, so I opened the door to my apartment, and about a minute later there it was. And it was two booms: one from the nose and one from the back of the wings.

    • Oh really? I had no idea they ever touched down anywhere other than near NASA. That’s very interesting. Oftentimes here in Central Florida, you would be awoken from a deep sleep by the loud boom. I always loved when hat happened. 🙂

  2. Nope, not a Shuttle launch. But I did see the last Apollo-Saturn V launch. The last moon mission, the one at night. Speaking of pillars of fire. It’s on You Tube, of course, it was in actuality about 10 times more awesome than the film.

  3. Even thought the picture ended up being sideways and it looks like the rocket is going to crash, I think the photo is awesome. I have not been able to see an actual shuttle launch though if I had the chance I would definitely like to see one 🙂

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