….Ignition…. and…. LIFTOFF!!

STS-130 Launch Photo Credit:Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

Photo Credit:Stephen Clark Spaceflight Now

We were witness to the end of an era, the last scheduled night launch of the Shuttle. STS-130 Endeavour lifted off early this morning at 0414 hrs. Today’s launch was the reschedule of the launch that was supposed to take place Sunday morning, but was scrubbed due to weather. The flight was a “go” up until just before launch time and was scrubbed at the last minute due to some low cloud cover. This morning’s rescheduled launch was on schedule, and lifted off in the early morning hours.


ICW Chart - Titusville

We arrived at Titusville on Saturday afternoon after a 2 hour cruise (with the re-commissioned autopilot!) from Cocoa, and decided to anchor just east of town. Our original plan was to anchor in the bight west of the VAB. The 7 ft. depths are adequate and holding good there, providing a good vantage point to watch a launch. As we approached however, we opted to continue north due to the NW winds that were blowing at about 25 kts. with higher gusts. Since we would not have been able to get ashore without making the nearly 3 mile dinghy run west to shore across some very rough water, we decided to anchor further north where we’d have a bit less bumpy night and close access to shore. A good choice since the wind kept things pretty well churned up, and we ended up staying another day because of the scrubbed launch. We landed the dink at Veteran’s Park. A popular site for launch-watching, it has a number of long docks that because of the depth of approach aren’t good for much more than fishing. But they make an OK spot to tie the dink, and go ashore. A party atmosphere prevails at the park as hundreds of folks braved the chilly wind, staking out their spot on the bulkhead to view the launch. Despite the setback of the scrubbed launch, most of the folks returned the following evening to repeat the drill all over, and with lower temps and higher winds, to boot!


Our launch experience began with the alarm going off at 0340 Sunday morning. We quickly checked the Space Center online site, finding that the weather still was a “go”, and the launch countdown continued. It was only minutes before the final countdown that the launch was actually scrubbed. So nothing to see, back to bed!

The launch pad very brightly lit and the lights reflect off the clouds, an unusual sight on the skyline! Monday morning we repeated the same routine, and the countdown continued to liftoff. We were amazed at how quickly the shuttle shot up into the clouds. The sky was lit up like daylight as the rocket thundered up off the launch pad. The sound took nearly a minute to reach us, but it really did thunder!


It is truly an awesome sight. An experience we’re glad we stayed around for!

Here is the video we shot from the cockpit of the launch. The noise that sounds like wind blowing past the mic is not wind, but the thundering of the shuttle as it shoots skyward. I actually missed the moment of ignition, with attention diverted to our link to the Space Center Comms to hear the actual countdown. Lesson learned, keep your eye trained on the object of focus!!

One Response to “….Ignition…. and…. LIFTOFF!!”

  1. John on 09 Feb 2010 at 1:06 PM #

    Hey great shots! I have watched to daytime liftoffs there but never a nightime. Always an awesome sight.

    John D