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Endeavour: Final Historic Voyage

by Kiran on May 24, 2011 · 18 comments

in Social Media, Travels

Hello my dear friends. Apologies for the short hiatus after Endeavour’s shuttle launch, but I am back to resume blogging as usual. Apparently I’m still on cloud nine ever since witnessing the launch. What an awesome experience and the best part about the whole experience is the ability to share it with you all. It’s a long recap with many photos, considered warned about space knowledge post overflow :)

Day 3 – Orbiter Rotating Service Structure (RSS) & Retraction

Awaiting to board the bus for tour

We returned to the Press Site on Sunday, 05/15 to view Endeavour closer during its RSS retraction at the launch pad before she departs on her final voyage. Not every one could return for the launch reattempt, so I am hoping this post would do justice for their absence.

Canine in charge of security

What’s Rotating Service Structure?

The rotating service structure (RSS) provides protected access to the orbiter for installation and servicing of payloads at the pad, as well as servicing access to certain systems on the orbiter. The rotating service structure is 102 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 130 feet high. It is supported by a rotating bridge that pivots about a vertical axis on the west side of the pad’s flame trench. The structure rotates through 120 degrees — one third of a circle — on a radius of 160 feet. Its hinged column rests on the pad surface and is braced against the fixed service structure. The structure is retracted before launch. – NASA

Three images below shows the retraction of RSS occurring just under 24 hours before launch.

The retraction slowly reveals Endeavour (orbiter).

And the RSS retraction completes, revealing shuttle Endeavour in all her glory!

Thanks to NASA, we were allowed to spend more than an hour taking in the beauty of what was merely 600 yards away! Obligatory portrait shots were taken of each other, that’s what space enthusiasm does to you.

Me with Stephanie Schierholz (NASA), who made all of this possible :)

More than 60 of #NASATweetup members returned for the orbiter retraction.

Shuttle Endeavour, revealed and ready for take off!

Day 4: The Lift Off!!!

The final and most important day began very early in the morning. To avoid huge traffic on launch day, I begin my journey to Kennedy Space Center at 1:30 am! Yes, you read it right. Bring on the caffeine and countless rounds of yawns.

That's the iconic count-down clock, and on the right, it's Endeavour at launch pad.

Shuttle Endeavour illuminates from a distance

Around 5:00am, we gathered to watch the Astrovan, with Astronauts in it, driving pass us towards Launch Pad A. There were laughs, giggle, shouts, claps etc. All signs of geeky excitements :D

Nasa Tweeps awaits for a glimpse of Astronauts

Here comes the Astrovan!

The excitements were quadrupled when the Astrovan literally stopped across us! I saw silhouette’s of the Astronauts waving to all of us. It was Nirvana for me. A space Nirvana moment. Cheesy, right?  :)

The Astrovan made a pit stop. Literally :D

There were many more hours to kill before the launch time (8:56am EDT), and I took the opportunity to translate our surroundings with my camera. Photos below translates view of the orbiter from wee hours into daylight.

We were given bleachers at the Press Site where we spent our time re-acquainting with many more friends and like-minded space enthusiasts. Hi you all :)

I couldn’t have left NASA’s ground without a photo with the iconic count-down time piece. This was taken 28 minutes and 58 seconds before Shuttle Endeavour’s launch.

Scene at Press Site

More view of Press Site

View of #NASATweetUp bleachers at Press Site. Look at the thick cloud ceilings!

READY FOR LAUNCH PHOTOS? HERE WE GO :D

God speed Endeavour — see you on June 1st.

How was I gonna share raw thunderous sounds, feelings and emotions felt during a shuttle launch through photos? Well, I have a treat for you all. A video aired on MSNBC. I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I have, sharing it with you :)

I can’t say THANK YOU enough to NASA TWEETUP members Stephanie Schierholz, Beth Beck and every one else who made this a memorable event for their space enthusiasts. This is what I call a Social Media successful strategy :)

Are you a space enthusiast? NASA has Atlantis final manned launch date set for July 8th :)

STS-134 Astronauts Photo Credit: NASA

Video Credit: MSNBC

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 carolinaheartstrings May 25, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience. Enjoyed this post.
carolinaheartstrings recently posted..WHAT I LIKE ABOUT HURRICANES…

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2 Kiran June 2, 2011 at 11:33 AM

CHS,
You are welcome honey. That’s the beauty about blogging – I am able to bring along my readers to experience this wonderful journey :)

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3 Destination Infinity May 26, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Really nice pictures… How much smoke that shuttle releases! Any people were inside?

Destination Infinity
Destination Infinity recently posted..Muthu – Oruvan Oruvan… &amp Bharathi – Nirpadhuve Nadapadhuve… Two Tamil Philosophical Songs!

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4 Kiran June 2, 2011 at 11:36 AM

DI,
Thanks so much. With 2 solid rocket boosters and 1 huge external tank, throttling in huge speed and power, of course there would be smoke everywhere. But the smoke cleared quickly! Amazing :D There were 6 astronauts in this mission. BTW, shuttle Endeavour is back from her final journey, safe and sound.

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5 Penelope May 27, 2011 at 4:11 AM

I worked at JSC & I’ve heard that Kennedy is a much more happening place. I never knew about the RSS. We used to watch launches on closed circuit tvs. I loved the cheering in the auditorium. And when the rocket boosters came off. So neat that you were actually there, my friend! I’m green right now.
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6 Kiran June 2, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Penelope,
Thanks honey, I am glad to share the awesome experience with you and every one else. Though I’ve never visited JSC before, I am sure it’s equally fabulous :)

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7 Rohit Sane May 27, 2011 at 7:15 AM

With so much pictures, we really get a feel of how you would be feeling while actually experiencing the lift-off.. I do accept, that a picture speaks a 1000 words and it holds true here too!
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8 Kiran June 2, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Rohit,
Thanks a lot buddy. This fulfills my blogging objectives very well – bringing you all together to experience this wonderful journey. And I am glad you saw it through :)

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9 Ameena May 29, 2011 at 1:02 PM

I can’t imagine being so close to the shuttle. What an amazing opportunity and what fabulous photos. Talk about a once in a lifetime event!!

And on the shallower side…I love your blue shirt. You look great!
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10 Kiran June 2, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Ameena,
Believe it or not, we were the closest any human can get during shuttle launch – about 3 miles away. And felt blessed for this awesome opportunity! Thanks for the compliment on the blue blouse *blush* :D

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11 Simply Life May 30, 2011 at 8:26 PM

wow! looks like a fun experience!
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12 Kiran June 2, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Simply Life,
Thanks for visiting Chatterbox, and WELCOME! Indeed, it was a fun and awesome experience :)

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13 jingoist June 11, 2011 at 1:12 AM

Simply Amazing Kiran,

This is the first time I have a feeling that I actually watched the shuttle lifting off from the ground!!

Thanks for sharing the pictures!
jingoist recently posted..KESC demands Govt to get offices vacated from miscreants

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14 Kiran July 12, 2011 at 11:32 PM

Jingoist,
Thanks for your comment. Truly appreciate it when something as complex yet wonderful like the space program excites people from around the world :)

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15 Devendra June 30, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Awesome post Kiran! Informative. Keep posting. I m thrilled by seeing these pics. *goosebumps* :) Have seen some of these pics b4.

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16 Kiran July 13, 2011 at 12:27 AM

Devendra,
Thanks for the compliments. It’s nice to know there are many space enthusiasts like myself, around the world!

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