Space Shuttle Endeavor – STS 127

After five scrubs and four trips out to Kennedy Space Center, I finally got to see STS 127 go up!

The first attempt bright and early on June 13th got scrubbed because of a “gaseous hydrogen leak”. Thankfully it was scrubbed before I left for the Cape. On the second attempt, I was not so lucky. After arriving early at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex and watching a IMAX film on the ISS, I learned that launch was officially scrubbed yet again at 1:55am on June 17th due to the same leak. The news was pretty depressing. It was very interesting how people at the Visitor’s Complex reacted. No one complained, everyone calmly packed up and slowly exited. I’m not sure if everyone was just tired or if events like this and the cost involved attract people of a higher maturity level, but it sure was nice.

STS 127 Lightning Strike

STS 127 Lightning Strike

With launch now set for July 11th at 7:39pm, it was scrubbed early because lightning struck the launch pad. NASA reported that the lightning didn’t damage anything but some of their sensors had picked up some amount of current that put it over some set threshold. They did the smart thing and scrubbed so they could do a diagnostics of their systems.

Storm cloud that canceled the launch of STS 127.

Storm cloud that canceled the launch of STS 127.

Sunday, July 12th, and Monday, July 13th, would prove to be the biggest test of everyone’s patience, including mine. The launch was scrubbed both times just before it was scheduled to go off. Both times a storm cloud popped out of nowhere and moved within the 20 mile “no weather allowed” zone around the launch pad and the Cape Canaveral landing strip. Both times I was shuttled out to NASA Parkway to the “regular” public viewing area which is about 6.9 miles from Launch Pad 39A where Endeavor was sitting. Both times everyone was shuttled back, disappointed that they had wasted yet another $21.20 and hours of their time.

Now determined to see this launch, I was most definitely going to the new time on Wednesday, July 15th at 6:03pm. Leaving work early yet again, I finally put in to practice the knowledge I gained during my last viewing attempts. The Visitor’s Complex gives everyone a card that says something along the lines of “STS XXX” and a time that you are supposed to arrive. This is what gets you in to the Cape on launch day. Depending on your assigned time, they can have you arriving up to 6-7 hours before the actual launch! I know this is to help with traffic, but waiting around that long is almost insane. If you have a bus pass, like I did, the last bus leaves out usually 1-1.5 hours before the launch, which means you could possibly be doing a whole lot of waiting. What I learned is that you can show up to the Visitor’s Complex 2 hours before the launch and be just fine; I did this twice. A little tip for anyone planning to go! Don’t blame me if this backfires, maybe I just got lucky.

Crowd at Banana River VIP Site

Crowd at Banana River VIP Site

Unknowing to me, it seemed that on the 6th launch attempt, the Visitor Complex felt sorry for everyone who kept spending all that money and wasting all that time just to watch the launch get scrubbed. I figured this out as soon as our bus made the WRONG TURN and started heading closer to the launch pad! To my surprise, they took all of us who waited it out this long to the closest public viewing site, the site where the people who work for NASA take their families, the Banana River viewing site off of Kennedy Parkway which is only 3.9 miles away! Everyone, including myself and the people who were with me, was ecstatic! The launch went off without a hitch with perfect weather. Everyone cheered, everyone left happy. It was a much needed upgrade.

Me at STS 127 Post-Launch

Me at STS 127 Post-Launch

Even though all of this may seem like a big waste of money and time, it was definitely worth the hassle. With the Space Shuttle program nearing an end, time is running out for people to see an up close and personal manned shuttle launch. This almost record breaking launch attempt was definitely worth the end result and the view that came with it. The blinding fire coming from the rocket boosters and the roar that you get to hear from being so close is next to none.

Check out the video I took of STS 127 launching from the Banana River VIP site on YouTube:
Space Shuttle Endeavor Launch – STS 127 – July 15th, 2009

Space Shuttle Endeavor Launch – STS 127 – Viewing from the Banana River VIP site – July 15th, 2009

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2 comments to Space Shuttle Endeavor – STS 127

  • It sounds like my experience and yours were similar with the difference that you got to catch the launch from closer up than I did. I came down to Florida to visit some friends, and I’d planned my trip in such a way as to make sure I’d be able to view the STS-127 launch. I even took a 1 way flight to Orlando from Los Angeles, since I know a delay or two isn’t uncommon. The folks I’d be going to KSC with had never seen a launch before and we were all excited. By the second weather scrub, which was our third time out to the cape, my friends were getting very discouraged, and I was beginning to fear that I’d lose my chance to see STS-127 launch in person, which was a major reason for me coming down to Florida when I did. Fortunately for all of us, my friend Traci decided to make one final attempt to view the launch on July 15, so I cancelled my Amtrak trip to tampa that I had scheduled for that day and went to the KSC Visitor complex rocket garden and got to enjoy being there for an actual launch. and, it’s a very good thing I wasn’t in any rush to leave Florida after I’d arrived on June 11. I ended up staying until July 29 when I’d originally planned to leave around July 12. Being totally blind, I couldn’t enjoy the view, but just being there was awesome. And, I’m hoping that before the shuttle program ends, I can make another trip to Central florida, and catch a launch from a closer viewing location where I can truly hear the sound of launch up close. And if I do get the chance to do this, I hope maybe it’ll launch on the first or at most second attempt.

  • Monty,

    I’m happy you hung in there and were able to experience STS-127. A shuttle launch is truly amazing for anyone who hasn’t experienced it. It’s amazing how many people began to give up after each scrub. Each day I went back there were less and less people. I was talking to a man from Ohio on the day it finally went up and it sounds like he was in the same boat as you. He canceled his flights twice in order to be there when it went off. I know some people may find it hard to keep taking off work like that, but for a shuttle program that is nearing it’s end, it was definitely worth hanging in there to finally experience a launch up close.

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