Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The no-rocket-launch blues

No launch, but there were clouds.

Another fueling issue prevented me from photographing a nighttime launch.

An Atlas V rocket was scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 9:24 p.m. Tuesday. But an engine valve in the upper stage of the 19-story rocket sprang a leak, relegating me to pictures of clouds at sunset. Last week, my lame fallback was the moon.

Unfortunately, I had already made the 35-minute trip to Port Canaveral, the closest public viewing site for a liftoff at Launch Complex 41, about 12 miles across the Banana River. Parking for launches is allowed along the waterside thoroughfare to Disney's cruise terminal. I was the first to arrive Tuesday, though, and that made me feel like a no-life loser. But I felt worse for the people I left behind who didn't get the text message from FLORIDA TODAY that said the show was off.

I'm trying to develop knowledge of the best sites from which to view launches. Probably the best resource on the Web is this site by Ben Cooper, a photographer and engineer at Kennedy Space Center.

I'm just trying to keep myself busy on my "weekend" days of Monday and Tuesday. But right now, the launch gods aren't cooperating.

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