Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rocket launches - especially when it's a Delta IV - are so cool

An 86.6-second exposure captures a Delta IV Heavy rocket as it lifts over Cape Canaveral, with streaks from cars in the foreground. This is taken from FLORIDA TODAY headquarters in Melbourne.

I'm dedicated.

In a warm-up exercise for Inauguration Day, I braved the frigid Florida air four times Saturday night to get a photo of a rocket launch. The Delta IV Heavy is monstrous. I wasn't going to let weather stop me from seeing it.

United Launch Alliance set a liftoff time for the classified payload at 7:33 p.m., after it had been delayed a few times earlier in the week. But nonspecific "technical glitches" canceled launch times of 7:33, 8:13 and 9:13.

With each new time, I ran out of the FLORIDA TODAY office building where I work. I drove to the edge of U.S. 1, the main thoroughfare nearby. I planted my tripod onto the cold hard ground, readied my remote control and waited. And waited. My nose ran. I sniffled. I blew on my hands. It was probably about 50 degrees.

But with each new launch time, my phone rang. A co-worker told me three times that the launch had been delayed.

On the fourth try, at 9:47 p.m., I waited minutes before the launch to leave the building. Despite itching to see it, I had work to do, too. But the fourth time proved to be the charm.

So I know I can conquer the weather in Washington, D.C. But the crowds? To prepare for the people on Inauguration Day, I went shopping at Circuit City early Saturday.

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