Sunday, 10 July 2011
A jewel of brightness
There are probably good reasons, like the fact that it would upset all the TV companies doing their live broadcasts from the back of the site.
So, we have only the countdown clock as our means of assessing the state of progress and to mark the passage of time towards launch.
When 00:08:59 suddenly appears after the final scheduled ‘hold’ at t-minus nine minutes you know things are getting closer to the grande finale.
"It’s a problem with the beanie cap," she quickly explained and then, "but it’s been sorted and they are going!" With that the countdown clock burst to life again, resolutely marking off the last 30 seconds.
Smoke billowed from the pad and at first the Shuttle rose in silence. Then the crackling of its engines comes rumbling across, transforming into a noise that shakes the ground and rocks through your whole body.
The flame was brighter than anything you can manage, almost too piercing to look at in real life - a jewel of brightness climbing into the heavens.
Though it didn't take long for Atlantis to disappear through the clouds, it left a lasting impression for those on the ground.
My 'automated' snaps turned out surprisingly well and some of them are added above along with (below) an official NASA shot of the KSC crowd, in which I can be spotted in the foreground if you know exactly where to look.