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Old 05-31-11, 09:48 PM   #1
Kurt Erlenbach
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The most awe-inspiring thing I've ever seen

I got an invite to go out to Kennedy Space Center this evening for the rollout of Atlantis for the final space shuttle launch. Here are a few pics. We were about 100 yards away. This is truly the most spectacular thing I've ever seen.













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Old 05-31-11, 09:51 PM   #2
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Nice ones.
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Old 05-31-11, 09:57 PM   #3
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Sweet. I'm bummed I'll likely never get to see a shuttle launch.
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Old 05-31-11, 11:06 PM   #4
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Thanks K'bach. I always wanted to see a launch, preferably a night launch.
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Old 06-02-11, 01:04 PM   #5
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Nice to see our tax dollars stacked upright. In this case i approve. Most awe-inspiring thing for me was seeing the SR-71 taking off and disappearing into a clear blue sky from Okinawa in 1966. It was and still is a truely unbelievable sight, the deep thunder of the afterburners lit on take-off from a dead stop, the speed it had on lift off and just gone going straight up. There was no taking its time to gather speed like the shuttle. Every time i saw it it had the same awe-inspiring feeling.
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Old 06-02-11, 02:07 PM   #6
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awesome!!
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Old 06-02-11, 02:27 PM   #7
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That is awesome! Jealous.

More rockets, less welfare recipients!
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Old 06-02-11, 03:52 PM   #8
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Awesome, I watched a nighttime launch last April & I will NEVER forget it. It was amazing.
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Old 06-02-11, 06:55 PM   #9
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Nice. Sweet spot for pictures. Congrats and well done!
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Old 06-02-11, 07:05 PM   #10
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Very, very cool. How lucky that you got to see it!

There was an interesting piece on NPR the other day about that huge transporter that moves the shuttle - how much it weighed (a whole lot), how fast it went (very slowly, 1 mph loaded) etc.
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Old 06-02-11, 07:11 PM   #11
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I was at a Phillies spring training game at the Pirates field a few years ago and everyone was in a real buzz about something. Turns out one of the shuttles was going to fly over. It was hard to really see it when it went over but it was a wow moment.
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Old 06-02-11, 08:05 PM   #12
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Nice to see our tax dollars stacked upright. In this case i approve. Most awe-inspiring thing for me was seeing the SR-71 taking off and disappearing into a clear blue sky from Okinawa in 1966. It was and still is a truely unbelievable sight, the deep thunder of the afterburners lit on take-off from a dead stop, the speed it had on lift off and just gone going straight up. There was no taking its time to gather speed like the shuttle. Every time i saw it it had the same awe-inspiring feeling.
Having seen both, I must admit its a tough choice, but a shuttle launch takes it for me. So much power! I think the launch we saw in the 90's was in the early morning, yet it lit up the area brighter than day. And the rumble was heart-pounding, and we were several miles away.

While in Korea in the '70s I got to see 2 SR-71 landings and takeoffs. AMAZING! They were flying out of Guam over North Korea and these two had "problems" and declared an emergency. I was in Air Traffic Control Radar repair at Kunsan, and when they declared an emergency they had to tell the ATC controller how many SOBs (Souls On Board) and aircraft type so we could notify the fire crew. It was a dead give-away when they declined to declare the aircraft type. We all piled out on to the run way to watch the landing. They first thing you would see is 3 black dots in the distance: 2 engines and the cockpit all held together by razor thin wings. When it landed it had to be so nose up that the pilots cant see the runway since the wings are so thin they would not provide enough lift.

Amazing technology. I'll never forget it.
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Old 06-02-11, 08:37 PM   #13
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Great stuff!! So could you have outsprinted the rollout vehicle??????
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Old 06-02-11, 08:59 PM   #14
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I'm a fanatic photographer, wish I could see a shuttle launch but not much chance of that now. Saw an Apollo from Orlando once and some garden variety satellite launches closer a couple of times.
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Old 06-02-11, 11:13 PM   #15
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The glory days of space are over for the US. Our new priorities include providing free healthcare (and free everything else) to illegals flocking here from all over. Pity. Space exploration was a nice dream while it lasted.

Now all we have left is Hope and Change.

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Old 06-03-11, 01:18 AM   #16
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The glory days of space are over for the US. Our new priorities include providing free healthcare (and free everything else) to illegals flocking here from all over. Pity. Space exploration was a nice dream while it lasted.

Now all we have left is Hope and Change.
Why does everything have to turn into politics. Geesh.
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Old 06-03-11, 01:24 AM   #17
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Great pics, thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:26 AM   #18
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Why does everything have to turn into politics. Geesh.
Maybe because it's affecting most of us more dramatically right now than ever?

And true story: This next launch is the last of NASA's shuttle program. Thousands of people are being laid off and the Cape is going to be manned with a skeleton crew.
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Old 06-03-11, 11:32 AM   #19
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Great pics. The big gap in my bike riding this summer will be in July when my family will go to Florida and watch the launch and spend some time hanging out at amusement parks. My wife couldn't pass up a chance to see the last launch, since a college friend of hers is in the 4 person crew and we can get tickets for a spot closer than the causeway (we don't get the closest possible spot, but still, a good spot). Just crossing our fingers the launch actually happens within a week of the scheduled July 8 date so we'll be able to see it.

I could probably rent a bike for a day while we're there to get some riding in and skip an amusement park day, but I've noted a distinct lack of hills in Florida, the workout just wouldn't be the same.
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Old 06-03-11, 06:40 PM   #20
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Why does everything have to turn into politics. Geesh.
because that's what happened to the space program.

j.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:04 PM   #21
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I could probably rent a bike for a day while we're there to get some riding in and skip an amusement park day, but I've noted a distinct lack of hills in Florida, the workout just wouldn't be the same.
Call it a recovery ride. I've ridden down there, and it ain't at all bad.
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Old 06-03-11, 09:49 PM   #22
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The shuttles and I started our flying careers at the same time. My current employer has relocated to the US and so does my job in July. Maybe we should retire at the same time as well. The old ships have been in service a long time.
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Old 06-04-11, 07:09 AM   #23
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The shuttles and I started our flying careers at the same time. My current employer has relocated to the US and so does my job in July. Maybe we should retire at the same time as well. The old ships have been in service a long time.
That's a switch. I never hear of any business relocating TO the US.
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Old 06-04-11, 07:29 AM   #24
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When we lived in Daytona Beach, the wife did outdoor advertising. At the time Rockwell was turning shuttles and did some advertising with her company. We got freebie VIP passes for STS-7, the one Sally Ride was on. Toured all the buildings, rode out to the launch pad and got the tour, then the next day in the VIP stands, 3 miles away, saw the launch. Simply awesome.

Also saw the Challenger disaster live from just up the road.
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Old 06-04-11, 12:54 PM   #25
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I was in downtown Sanford watching when Challenger exploded. I've seen almost every launch since moving here - STS 4 was my first. STS 135 goes up 7/8/11 at 11:40 a.m. Night launches are always great, but the best are those right after sunset, when it launches in dusk and rises into sunlight. After that launch, my town is largely closing up shop.

I'm a huge fan of the space program, but I'm conflicted about the end of the shuttle program. It's hugely expensive with questionable benefits. The shuttle and the space station are spectacular engineering achievements, but of limited practical and scientific usefulness. Compared with the unmanned space program, the manned program (which costs twice as much) is tough to justify. The unmanned space probes of the last 20 or so years have been so tremendously successful, it gets hard to justify the money to send people into low earth orbit. The Hubble would have been a flop without the shuttle to fix it, but if the Webb telescope works as advertised the scientific benefits will be huge. Congress largely let down NASA since Challenger because it wouldn't properly fund a replacement for the shuttle, but maybe it's the right result in the end.

Here's a few more pics, just because I like them. This is my boy and me at the rollout:



This is a photo from a ride, the last time two shuttles were on the pads;



And two from my chance to see a launch from VIP seating, July 4, 2006:



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