Wednesday, June 11, 2008

GLAST blasts toward space, not Tampa

This is the view across the beach at Jetty Park of the Delta 2 rocket carrying a rather pricey space telescope.

Today was the much-anticipated and long-delayed launch of the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST. It went up on a souped-up Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

I woke up early for the 25-minute trip north for a 11:45 a.m. liftoff. Wisely, I took time before I left to sign up for FLORIDA TODAY's launch updates via text messaging.

I dropped a whole Lincoln note for the parking fee at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral. Most people were there for an easy, not-too-hot day of fishing and lounging on the beach.

But a few people knew what was up. We gathered on a boardwalk to the beach, a high vantage point from which to view launch pad 17B.

One oblivious beach bum came up and asked me, "Is there a launch or something?" I told him about it, and then he asked, "Where's it going?"

"Space," I said.

"No. When is it going?" he said. (I suppose I misheard him the first time.)

"Oh, 12:05," I said. Of course, I knew that because I had received inside information on my phone that said the launch was delayed 20 minutes.

The spectators in the vertical photo laughed when I told the bum that the rocket was headed for space. "Oh, I thought it was going to Tampa," one said. (It was going east, not west, so I doubt it, dude.)

When it finally lifted off, I - of course - messed up my camera a few seconds after it became airborne. I accidentally adjusted the settings dial to an automatic preset for people who don't know how to manually adjust the camera. I don't even know what it was for, but the photo came with an interesting silhouette, below, and the colors seemed better, too.

This was the closest I have been to the pad for a launch, and it was quite spectacular. Besides, GLAST rhymes with 'blast,' which makes for a perfect launch.

Accidental shot with the weird settings.

Bird bird, bird bird, bird

Beautiful rocket headed toward space (not Tampa).


Webwriting07 said...

Beautiful photos, Andrew! Did you publish them anywhere else, too?

Wordnerdy said...

That last photo is especially nice. Perhaps one could get that in a high-quality print suitable for framing? It might make a nice birthday gift, too. ...

Andrew Knapp said...

Webwriting07: Those photos were exclusive to The Offlede. I couldn't handle the prestige of an outside publication anyway.

Wordnerdy: I'll look into it.