Sunday, March 29, 2009

Risking life, ticket to see the shuttle and to hear it boom

Click on the "HD" button in the right corner (so it's red) to watch in high definition.

Shuttle Discovery landing at Cape Canaveral
A screen grab from the video.

While spectators go crazy to see it lift off, little hype surrounds the landing of a space shuttle. Being new to Florida, I usually follow the masses when it comes to such things, so I've never bothered to see the shuttle land at Kennedy Space Center.

Until today. And man, was it a bother.

Clouds and strong winds prompted NASA flight directors to waive Discovery's first landing attempt Saturday afternoon. Seeing the dense puffy cu, I figured there was slim chance that conditions would improve for the second window an hour and a half later.

So I went about my normal afternoon. I browsed the Internet and took a brisk run on one of the hottest days this spring. When I returned, I learned that winds were pushing the clouds away from the 3-mile runway at Cape Canaveral. But I would need to book it if I were to make it to my favorite shuttle viewing spot on time.

I grabbed my video camera, screamed at a few Florida drivers who shouldn't be on the road and completed the lengthy trip to Titusville's Space View Park just in time to press "record" and hear the shuttle's twin sonic booms that signal its final approach. I was adjusting the aperture for the hazy conditions when the blasts occurred, though, so the video of NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building is poor. In addition, I had no time to adjust the tripod, so the video is crooked.

Though I spotted Discovery early, it took time to find it through my video camera's viewfinder. I managed a short, often out of focus video of the spaceship as it dropped below the trees and landed at 3:13 p.m. It was quite a sight (and sound).

Time of stay: 6 minutes. Round-trip commute time: 75 minutes.

Shuttle's speed at touchdown: 225 mph. My speed on Interstate 95: 85 mph.

I held my own.

Link: Check out this intriguing photo by FLORIDA TODAY photographer Craig Rubadoux.


Wordnerdy said...

Thanks for your effort. I was at the beach and couldn't hear the booms for the mighty wind. You might call it a bother, but I appreciate it.

Andrew Knapp said...

I'm here to serve.

Mark said...

I live so close to KSC it shakes my whole house. I forgot the shuttle was landing that day and thought my neighbor was banging on his wall.