Coast to Coast: Midnight Sunrise

Midnight sunrise: STS-128 lifts off from Pad 39A at 11:59 PM EDT.


Click Here to watch the video of the STS-128 launch. Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection required.

When we moved to Florida in June, at the top of my guilty pleasure list was filming a Shuttle night launch. I saw one about twelve years ago, and it was the most incredible event I’ve ever witnessed.

What you see on TV doesn’t do it justice. The colors wash out, but you see it up close from NASA’s perspective, not from the public’s perspective.

Last night my wife and I drove north to Titusville so we could watch the STS-128 launch from Kennedy Point Park. The view is directly across the Indian River about ten miles to the west of Pad 39A.

I wrote on Tuesday that the launch scheduled for that night was scrubbed due to rain. Click Here to watch video of the lightning storm that scrubbed the launch.

We had lightning last night, but fortunately it was in the direction opposite from where Discovery was going to fly, so although it looked dangerous it had no impact on the flight.

Last night’s video at the above link shows you the launch from the public’s perspective. When the engines ignite, it looks like a sun suddenly burst into existence on the horizon. The flame colors wash out on my camcorder too; you have to see it in person with your own eyes to truly appreciate it.

The video shows you the crowd around the park, the view across the river, some of the iconic buildings and facilities you’ve seen on TV and, yes, more lightning strikes (edited for time).

What I remember about both night launches is that as the Shuttle goes down range, eventually it becomes one star on the horizon against all the other stars — only this star has people on it.

And for those who might be wondering … No, that’s not my voice in the background with the running commentary. Two amateur astronomers happened to be standing nearby.

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