So a few days ago I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life: I got to witness a space shuttle launch! This has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid... For this event I'm going to post not one image, but NINE total, showing various parts of the launch and taking you guys on the journey with me, sharing with you what it was like. With that said, let's begin!
So long story short with respect to how I got to check out a shuttle launch, I've got a friend named Stan who I met on Fred Miranda, a photography forum I used to frequent pretty often, who's kept a series of travelogues about his journeys traveling around the world. He's been an inspiration to me in doing the same in my life. Anyways, he's got some pretty sweet connections with NASA and offered me a free pass to shoot the launch from the causeway. Did I want to go? Um YES! When everything was finally confirmed, I bought myself a plane ticket to Orlando. Woohoo!! Let's do this!
There's a 2 main special access places you can view the shuttle from: the press area 3 miles away, and the causeway (a landbridge) some 8 miles away. Then you've got virtually anywhere in the state of Florida. ;)
This launch was scheduled for 6:21am, pre-sunrise. We arrived at Kennedy Space Center the day before the launch to get our VIP passes and info packets. With a full day ahead of us, we checked in, bought a discount pass to KSC, and spent the day touring around, learning about shuttle launches, and getting more and more excited by the hour.
Our passes told us that we had to be at the space center no later than 2am to watch the launch. We debated going back to our hotels (I was actually staying with my friend Amanda from college) and getting a little sleep, but decided against it. Instead after an afternoon at the space center, we grabbed some dinner, went to go see a movie to kill some time, and then chilled at Denny's with a bunch of other people who were doing the same prior to the launch. Honestly, it was really nice to be with people after spending so much time being solo in Colorado. :)
Around midnightish, the two of us (I was traveling with another guy who got a pass from Stan. I hadn't me him before, but he was awesome and we got along great.) headed back to the space center, readied our gear, and headed in to go to the causeway. We got in line for the buses and I had time to charge up my iPhone and talk to some of the other photographers in line. The line quickly got really LONG. The buses weren't scheduled to depart to the causeway until 3:30am, but we were waiting in line anyways. People brought pillows, sleeping bags, blankets, even inflatable air mattresses! They were waiting in style there! There were hundreds and hundreds of us, eager and excited to go watch the launch.
As 3:30 arrived, we all got up, boarded the buses, and off we were to the shuttle!!