As i can not send anything online, i'll probably cover the rest in one post. Today's previous posts and events can be found here:
8:10 astronauts arrived at the pad and inspect shuttle. We are watching nasa tv from inside ksc.
8:30 countdown status briefing: weather has improved (and, yes, it is sunny)
9:00 in the bus line, ready to board the next one. Many astronaut invited guests also on these busses
9:10 boarding the bus, let's see when we go off to the causeway. Its really sunny now, but the still seem to be some clouds over the sea. I think I would be quite disappointed now if the launch is really scrubbed. And, by the way we have handed over our LTTs, so if it scrubbed, we have lost (except if we could get new ones) - the bus driver is right now explaining this once again.
More explanations: there is a roped area which we are not allowed to leave. After launch, there may be some harmless drops from the exhaust, which causes irritation at most. We are recommended to go back to the bus quickly. This happens only occasionally (probably depending on the wind). You always stay with your assigned bus. There seems to be a one-to-one mapping, and that is probably because of safety reasons. The bus leaves back 1 hour after launch.
9:20 off we go to the causeway
10:05 we are on the causeway for quite a while now and i have set up my camera and taken some shots from the shuttle as it sits in the launch pad. There is some commentary via public speaker system. The still talk about the weather and a potential scrub. Oh man, am I excited. I hope sooo bad that Discovery will launch.
10:25 more clouds move in ... Nasa continues launch preparations. We are currently in the t-20 hold.
10:50 still clouds. Lots of clouds.. Lots and lots of clouds ... Nasa is still proceding, now at the t-9 hold. I guess they will scrub, if needed, within the last 10 minutes or so. I still hope we get away without a scrub. And if it is scrubbed, I hope we'll manage to get new tickets. Oh man, this is so cool here, I woukd really not like to give that up. But lets keep optimistic.
11:03 the public announce system has very bad quality. Especially for me non-native speaker its hard to grasp what's going on. We get shadedue to the clouds. Doesn't look promising. Discovery is in shade now too. The crowds get bigger and bigger and more and more cameras appear...
11:07 right now low clouds are directly above the shuttle -- or are they not? Maybe its a question of perspective. Btw... Did I mention that I had forgotten to turn off my vide camera? Thankfully, it turned itself off, so I hope to be able to take some shots if the shuttle launces (well, as it looks I seem to be positive about that....)
11:15 still low clouds, shuttle still in shade. We are at t-9 and holding. Less than half an hour now...
11:17 now it looks like it starts raining close to the shuttle. If so, that's it...
11:21 ice buildup on the shuttele (if I got the announcement right). Still go for launch...
11:26 still go! Cloud moves away, discovery is in the sun again - as we are, becsuse the clouds clear up. Ist probably a question of how fast they move (out)
11:28 still go! Announcement that booster droplets should be avoided
11:30 T-9 and counting! I am crossing my fingers...
11:57 I still can't believe it - we had a liftoff! What an excitment. And all that sound. Hat surprised me the most was how bright the exhaust was. I nearly couldn't look without hurting me eyes.I even managed to take some pictures without distracting me too much. Oh man, am I happy! I whish the crew an excellent mission and I am extremely grateful that I could witness the launch! We are now waiting inside thebus (as advised). It probably takes around an hour to go back to the main complex. The next thing I do is save my pictures, as I definitely do not want to loose them!
Also, my deepest thanks to all who helped me make my trip. Special thanks to Armando for the launch photography link, which enabled me to take pictures without being detracted.
One note: I've written this on my pda, there are for sure some typos in it. However, I refrain from editing the post as it covers my excitment and fears as things progressed. I don't want to destroy that by editing. Even typos may convey my excitment level ;)
13:05 we are back at the main complex for roughly 20 minutes now. The space center is so full of people - even though there already is big traffic jam going out. Getting something to eat is extra challenging. But does that matter after such a great launch? ;) Interestingly, all the temporary facilitiesat ksc are already being taken down. On the causeway, they dismantled everything even while we waited in the bus. These guys seem to do everything highly efficient. Through the public speaker system, I listen to shuttle ground communication. From what I grasp, everything went well, not just the launch.
EDIT: you can now view my space shuttle launch day pictures. I have uploaded them into my gallery. They contain comments, and I think give a good impression of the overall experience.
And here is the picture that probably shares the most enjoyment:
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