I could kick myself. Of all the moments for my batteries to run out in my camera this was not a good one. I am a stickler for carrying spares with me or changing to freshly charged batteries before setting off for an important event. But maybe the time of night or excitement affected my judgment and off I went to the beach to view the space shuttle launch without a backup. What makes it more galling is that it was a perfect night for it. The sky was clear of cloud, stars and moon shone brightly in a black sky. Small groups of people gathered on the beach at each broadwalk. One hundred and fifty miles south at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center the conditions were considered “good to go” and the space shuttle Discovery mission STS-128 lifted off at 11:59pm on Friday 28th August.
This photo was my first, a tester using the night settings. It turned out to be the last too as the batteries gave up. Usually I would not consider this of merit for display but while imperfect it does show the magnitude of the power involved when it lights up the sky despite being 150 miles away. The shuttle and its fiery snake of a tail were clearly visible until the solid rocket boosters fell away. After that the shuttle’s main engines produced a bright speck which moved quickly across the sky, seemingly in a northerly direction. It was an incredible thing to witness and I’m still annoyed that I don’t have a better photographic record of the event. There are six more shuttle missions. Hopefully I’ll be around to witness at least one more.
Here’s how it should have looked