Monday, July 11, 2011

Final Shuttle Launch, Yes I was there! No cooking for me this week~

No cooking for me last week, although I did enjoy the most flavorful fish tacos with lime and mango salsa  at "The Jungle" an organic restaurant in Melbourne, FL.  I had the opportunity to accompany my husband Doug to the Kennedy Space Center for the last shuttle launch, Atlantis. Our flight arrived in Orlando at around 6pm on Monday July 4th and the week began with an evening of fire works as far as the eye could see.

This is one big birthday celebration for our country and two days later my husband Doug has a birthday on July 6th. We will never forget this week.

While I spent my time walking on the beach, body surfing, watching the surfers, dolphins and assorted wild life, Doug was up every morning at 4 am getting ready to head out to the Imaging Lab at the Kennedy Space Center to prepare the cameras for the launch which was scheduled for Friday July 8, 2011 at 11:48am.

This picture that was taken with one of the two cameras that my husband sells and after working with NASA for the last couple of years the Cooke cameras were selected to digitally record the final shuttle launch Atlantis. The results will be a first ever 3D capture from a tracking mount.

From the beginning of the week there was excitement in the air and high hopes that the shuttle would launch without delay. Thursday afternoon a thunder and lighting storm had blown in to the area and by Friday morning the weather reports indicated that there was a 70% chance that the launch would be scrubbed.

Friday morning communications from Doug:
5:26 am - “sitting in traffic with 10 miles to go”
8:22 am - “We are going to fly”
9:52 am - Doug sent the photo “The Astronauts are in the shuttle and the weather is holding”
10:53 am - Doug called me to tell me it was looking really really good!
11:10 am - I decided that this was one experience that had to be shared. So I headed down from my room to the beach to watch the launch with the gathering crowd. I met up with Christy who I had met early in the week and we decided to gather her two boys and husband Todd and head to the beach to watch the launch.

The hotel we were staying at was 60 minutes from KSC however we were told that we could see the launch from the beach in front of our hotel in Melbourne, FL.

The beach was packed and I was monitoring the countdown from my Blackberry and within seconds of lift off we could see the fire trail and shuttle from our vantage point on the beach. A cheer went up as Shuttle Atlantis appeared in the sky then was hidden behind the clouds only to reappear and then head into more clouds followed by the roar of the engines, we had lift off!!!!
Beach View

The thrill was beyond words, especially after a week of wondering whether the launch would be scrubbed and Friday the weather reports which began at the crack of dawn with a 30% chance of launch. With over a million spectators collectively crossing their fingers for a successful launch, “Atlantis lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:29 a.m. EDT, July 8, 2011 on the STS-135 mission.” Check out

I asked Doug what the atmosphere was like in the Imaging Lab and he responded that everyone was feeling like they were in a pressure cooker all week and as the countdown began you could cut the tension and excitement with a knife.

I only wish I could have been on-site with Doug and feel the ground shake and air crackle as Atlantis had lift off! Brilliant!

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