Friday, March 18, 2011

Taking Chances & Changing Flights

I'm not a gambling man, but I certainly tried my luck in this instance. Because of bad weather NASA changed the schedule of when Endeavour rolled out to the launch pad. They delayed it for 24 hours, but then there was no guarantee that it would happen the next day either. I was scheduled to leave way before any of that would happen (IF it happened). I kept one eye on the radar, and the other on the twitter feeds coming out of NASA. Things started looking hopeful on both of those fronts, so I decided to take the chance and change my flights. And BOY am I glad I did, because I got some of the most amazing shuttle photos I've taken so far.

The reason I'm really, really happy that this all worked out is because for the first time I got the opportunity to photograph the Endeavour from the launch structure and the RSS. The image you see at the top of this post is the first thing I saw when I exited the NASA transport van. 

We took the elevator to the upper levels of the launch structure and started there, slowly walking our way down to the bottom. This is a few levels below the top. On the right you can see the walkway that the astronauts take to enter the shuttle. On the left you can just barely see engineers working on the orange external fuel tank.
This image is taken from near the top of the RSS (Rotating Service Structure).
And even I had to play tourist for a moment. I mean, how can I not stop to get a photo of myself standing here?
The photo below might be one of my favorite shots from this day. I was only allowed to bring the lens that I had attached to the cameras at the time. NASA didn't want me changing lenses and accidentally dropping one. I was even told that I had to leave my lens caps behind, in case one of them fell off. I had two cameras with me; one with a 14mm and the other with a 17-40mm zoom. I'm so fortunate that I had the 14mm with me because it was wide enough to capture this amazing shot:
I was about 6 feet away from the wing when I took that. I would have loved to continue photographing all day, but I was only given a limited amount of time, and besides, I had to quickly rush out of there to run to the airport! I just barely made my flight. But as I was on my way I knew that if I missed it... it would have been ~totally~ worth it :)

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