Saturday, February 26, 2011

Launch of Discovery!

Before I even made it into the press room on launch day I had a few people come up to me and say "You guys got stuck in the rocks!"  So I'm glad to know that people are reading the blog :)

The weather was perfect for launch day.  It couldn't have been more beautiful.  I am happy to say that I was one of only 12 photographers who were allowed to photograph from on top of the Vertical Assembly Building.  Despite a few hectic moments it was quite a thrill.  I wish I would have gotten to slow down and enjoy it a little, but I was pretty focused on the four cameras I carried up there with me.  Two were shooting stereo video, one was shooting a wider angle video, and I was shooting still frame photos with the fourth one.  Here is one of my images from where I was stationed.
The remote cameras we had placed around the launch pad worked great and gave us some incredible dramatic footage.
A number of people were wondering about Jook's camera near the launch pad, and wanted to know if it survived.  Yes, it did, and it captured some really interesting shots.  I don't think I've ever seen a photo of a shuttle launch quite like this one-
There are so many more!  But I am exhausted after this crazy week and I need to get some sleep soon. I fly back home tomorrow, but a number of people on the Last Shuttle Team are sticking around because the Shuttle Endeavour will be moved to the VAB on Monday so that NASA can start preparing for the next launch!  Soooo... here we go again :)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Remote Cameras And Loose Rocks

OK, so this is NOT how you want to spend your time at Kennedy Space Center.  We managed to get our van stuck in the rocks of the crawler pathway, right in front of the Shuttle Discovery.  While it was embarrassing, and the guys in the guard station had a good laugh watching us, we did eventually get the van moving again.
This day was all about setting our camera rigs around the launch pad  in different locations.  We set up 10 cameras; some by themselves, and others working together to shoot 3-D.  We started at 6:30am, and most of the morning was filled with really thick fog.  At times the shuttle was completely obscured, making it very difficult for me trying to focus the cameras!  I had to wait for a section of the tower to stick out and then I'd try to guess where the rest of the vehicle is.
 Jook's fisheye rig is the closest one we have to the actual launch pad.  Hopefully it doesn't get fried by the blast :)  Here's is a shot which demonstrates the amount of sky that his camera will show during the launch.
And here is the same shot with a normal lens.

Labels: , , , , ,

Piles of Cameras and Mountains of Gear

The entire Last Shuttle team is in Florida and getting ready for the launch of Discovery this week.  The weather is perfect, and so far the news out of NASA is very positive. 

I was happy to see that my parents found the old set of Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo NASA mission patches that I had hanging on my wall as a kid.  These are the original, old-school ones from the 60s & early 70s.  I forgot about the oversized Apollo patch.  I bet that's quite the rarity!  I don't think I've seen another one like it.  

We finally got together as a group in the afternoon, and WOW, could we have any more equipment piled up?  We have just under 20 cameras and too many lenses to count.  It'll be interesting to see if we can keep it all straight by the time we're done. A few of us have traded cameras and lent lenses to each other.
Here's an interesting combo.  Jook has taken a Nikkor 8mm circular fisheye lens and stuck it on a Canon 5D Mark II.  We are going to place this setup very close to the shuttle, knowing that we'll get a very interesting perspective of the launch.

I stuck the 8mm lens on my 5D Mark II and went out into the hotel hallway to show you the crazy circular view that you get.
And here, sitting among the lenses and camera bodies, is a shot of the hand-held 3D camera rig that Bob built.  We'll have some fun with that as well.

Tomorrow we'll be placing our cameras around the launch pad!  More to come...

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shuttle Prep Work

Now that the Discovery is safely back on the launch pad, we had a chance to turn our attention to the other two orbiters that are still being prepared for their launches later this year.

The very last shuttle that will lift-off into space will be the Atlantis.  Right now it is sitting in the Orbital Processing Facility, which is kind of like the Jiffy-Lube for Shuttles.  It's where all the repair work is done.  We have a couple of 3-D camera rigs mounted in different spots here, catching all the action as the engineers and technicians work on the shuttle.  While Bob and Rhonda were switching out the batteries and memory cards of the 3-D rigs, I though I'd get a few photos to show you some behind-the-scenes hard work that the public almost never get to see.
The above photo really demonstrates how covered up the shuttle is during processing.  It's a little difficult to tell what is going on here, but you're looking diagonally from the front to the rear of the shuttle. Right in the middle is the cargo bay, surrounded by platforms, scaffolding, and walkways. The overhead rig is actually movable; it slides from the front to the rear of the orbiter.
This is the front landing gear right under the nose section.

And here is the landing gear on the rear of the plane, under the right wing.  This is looking from the rear of the Atlantis to the front.  I was using a 14mm super-wide lens to really show off all the burn marks from re-entry.  You can also see all the raised scaffolding that is still in place so the technicians can attend to issues under the Shuttle's tiles.

I was supposed to head home tomorrow around noon. But with the monster blizzard that is roaring through Chicago I don't think that is going to happen.  Rhonda & Bob are going to interview an astronaut tomorrow morning out at the NASA press center.  I think I'll give them a hand.  And please, please don't harass me about calling it 'the Jiffy-Lube for shuttles' :)  Thanks

Labels: , , , , , , , ,