Florida Trip Photography


I haven’t had a chance to process things enough to do my big post-launch post, but here are some pictures I took (and one that was taken of me) during the trip. I didn’t take much launch photography, which I’ll get to in the bigger post, so most of these are from the Astronaut Walk of Fame.

Beach Time


More catching up from the month or so I missed:

It’s all relative, you know?

Arguably, it wasn’t a great shuttle launch trip.

Heather and the boys and I rode down to Titusville late last month with our friends the Meeks to watch the launch of the STS-134 space shuttle mission.

And Endeavour decided not to launch.

We got as far as the NASA Causeway, where I was waiting in line at the souvenir stand hours before the scheduled launch when we got the word that there would be no launch that day.

We ended up having to stay the following day and into the next before we found out for sure that the launch would be delayed too long for us to stay.

And, yeah, there were a few moments where it was frustrating.

There was one in particular when I was dealing with the disappointment of the scrub, the uncertainty of what would happen with the schedule, the challenge of keeping boys entertained while we were waiting, balancing the needs and desires of the four of us, the couple we traveled with and the family we were staying with.

And I realized —

Back home, Huntsville was still dealing with the effects of the major storms that had just come through. Everyone was without electricity. People were worried about water. Businesses were closed. Figuring out how to eat was a challenge. The city was under curfew.

If we weren’t there for the scrub, we’d be dealing with that. Instead, we had a free place to stay in Florida, power, water, food, things to do and places to go.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you can feel sorry for yourself while you’re standing on a sunny beach.

I’m just grateful I was able to remember that perspective in time to enjoy the sun and sand.

Because it really was a nice beach.

Scrubbed Again


I’d gotten spoiled.

For a while there, I felt like I was cursed. There was the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launch that I missed seeing live by just one day, after extending my trip to spend another morning on the causeway. There was the STS-114 landing that took place in California while I was on-site in Florida. There was the STS-121 launch that I got rained on and sunburned both, only to see it on television after finally making it back home in a rental car after the car of the friends I rode with broke down. There were those days that I spent in Florida waiting for STS-122 to not launch, costing me a unique chance to land in a plane on the shuttle runway in the process.

And then, last year, it all changed. STS-125 launched on the scheduled day (well, ignoring over a year of delays before the launch date I went down for). Ares I-X had its share of triboelectrification delays, but still was kind enough to leave the ground while I was present for it. Earlier this year, both STS-130 and -131 launched, not without snags, but without too many snags.

I was golden.

I was hoping maybe things had changed. Maybe recent changes had worked out some kinks, and the whole space launch process was smoother. After all, I couldn’t go down for STS-132 earlier this year because of my brother’s graduation, but it, also, launched in an agreeably timely fashion.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

The original Monday launch date was scrubbed before we left town, but it was just pushed back to Tuesday, so we went ahead and got in the car for Florida. Tuesday turned into Thursday, and bad weather turned Thursday into Friday. Friday came, and became the end of the month.

Which, you know, is fine. It’s less frustrating to me to miss a launch by weeks, or months, than a day or two. There’s nothing worse than knowing that if you had just waited a little bit longer, you would have seen it. I spent longer in Florida on this trip than I have any other, but there was no way we were going to make it until NET Nov. 30.

We also never had to actually go out and wait on the Causeway for the scrub this time, all of the problems were kind enough to occur well in advance this time, freeing up time for other Florida activities, which I may end up writing more about later.

In fact, with the exception of a very brief trip to the Kennedy Visitors Center and a thwarted effort to see the shuttle on the pad at night, the closest I got to seeing the shuttle on this trip was the LEGO set in the picture above.

But, as I’ve said before, you know, this is the way it works. This past week was just as much a part of the spaceflight experience as my last four trips. I hate that the people I was traveling with got the bad side versus the good side of that experience, though it could have been worse; Disney was a much more agreeable place to spend a non-launch than hours at the riverside.

And, frankly, knowing that this will be the last time she’ll leave Earth, I can’t blame Discovery for not wanting the adventure to be ending.

Maybe if they’d offer her STS-135, she’ll be more agreeable.