Launch Report -STS114

When we got up this morning, the weather conditions, technical conditions at the Cape and my work conditions all looked favorable, so we set off on a road trip up the Space Coast to Port Canaveral to watch the STS 114 launch from the beach near Jetty Point. This put us about 6 miles from the pad at the time of the launch. We had staked out this spot 2 weeks ago when the fuel sensor caused NASA to abort the launch. We thought it would be a pretty good spot to watch the launch from.and we were right.

We got to the beach around 9:00 am and waited patiently over the next hour and 39 minutes while the beach filled up around us. By 10:30 AM EST, the place was getting to be a little crowded.

At 10:39, we began to hear a low roar in the distance. It sounded a little like a 747 on take off.but it was deeper and kept getting louder. Suddenly the beach began to erupt in cheers and applause as the shuttle became visible to our Northeast above the condos.

It was incredible and something that will stay with me for a lifetime. I now understand the term "rising on a pillar of fire" as Discovery, the central fuel tank and the SRBs were all but invisible. Whether it was the brightness of the flame or whether the amazingly long flame just drew your eye away from the vehicle, I cannot say. The flame itself had much more of an orange hue than I expected. It looked very similar to Aerotech White Lightening propellant.and orange yellow flame and a thick plume of dense grey/white smoke.

At first the progress appeared to be slow .. Almost like the shuttle was clawing its way into the sky, but in no time, it became apparent just how fast it was accelerating, especially as the shuttle rotated and began to head down range.

The most amazing thing for me was the fact that the sound of the engines could be heard long after the shuttle was no longer able to be tracked by the naked eye. It's low bass frequency rumble thundered on for at least 7 minutes after I lost sight of Discovery.

I am sure I will remember this launch for a long, long time. It was my first. Next time I want to be close enough to feel the thunder in my chest!

Mark A Palmer

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Mark A Palmer
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I was lucky enough to watch an early morning launch in July 2001 from the Causeway (inside the Space Center). At ignition the night became day. It wasn't until the shuttle was in the air that we heard the noise. And then we felt it!

What struck me was after the SRBs burned out the main engines burned bright blue. It was very visible in the night sky. Very cool.

The atmosphere on the causeway was like a carnival. It reminded me of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Not the big name parades on Canal on Mardi Gras day, but the smaller parades that go through the neighborhoods in uptown New Orleans. Everyone was in a good mode, folding chairs set up, the live feed from NASA on the loudspeaker, food vendors, etc..

Two things I regret. One was trying to take pictures of it. I saw too much of the early flight from the viewfinder of my camera. And the pictures were not worth it. Second, not making more of an effort to see other launches. Like watching military aircraft on maneuvers, that's my tax money paying for it so I might as well enjoy the show!

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Alex Mericas

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