STS-127 Endeavor

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This was STS-127 Endeavor on launch pad 39A on June 8, 2009. Scheduled to launch on June 13th, it was scrubbed five times because of leaks, weather or scheduling conflicts and finally launched on July 15th, long after we had left.

It’s hard to get a sense of the scale but the Space Shuttle (orbiter, solid rockets and external fuel tank) is 153 ft high and the tower is 347 ft from the base of the pad to the tip of the lighting mast. This photo was taken from 0.95 miles. It’s an awkward shot because If I crop it any looser the detail suffers, and if I crop it tighter, the foreground and the heavens go missing along with total loss of scale.

Endeavor, the orbiter itself, is on the opposite side of the orange external fuel tank and surrounded by the Rotating Service Structure. The heavy line running from the tower off screen to the right is actually seven, 1200 ft slide lines for the astronauts’ escape baskets in case something goes wrong before T-minus 30 sec. The lines end behind a bunker where 2 Armored Personnel Carriers are waiting with the engines running. IMHO, not far enough, not fast enough!

Capt. Wally Schirra was asked what he was thinking while sitting atop a highly explosive mass of rocket fuel when Gemini 6’s Titan II rocket engines had a premature ignition and then flame out while on the launchpad. He said his main thought was that, “This was all put together by the lowest bidder.”

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