Monday, April 5, 2010

STS-131 Launch Video

STS-131 launches at 6:21 AM EDT from Pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA.

A friend arranged for me to film the launch of STS-131 from a public viewing area near the Turn Basin at Kennedy Space Center. This is the closest that civilians are allowed to view a launch.

Click here to view the video. It runs about 15 minutes. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch. (Turn up the volume on your computer speakers during the launch!)

You always see on TV the video from NASA's cameras, but you rarely see what else is going on, so I filmed some of the activities around the Turn Basin viewing site. You'll see the arrival of the Close Out Crew (the folks who seal the astronauts into their vehicle), the AstroVan used for transporting astronauts, trucks from NASA Fire Rescue, and nearby buildings to orient you.

An unexpected surprise was the arrival of the International Space Station. It sped right across the Moon as it orbited past Merritt Island. You'll hear the crowd gasp.

One problem with the video is that a photographer stood up right in front of my camcorder as Discovery cleared the tower. I spoke to him beforehand and asked him not to block my camcorder. He said he would be careful, but he did it anyway. Those things happen in the heat of the moment, and I've done it too, but that's what happened when you see the image eclipsed in the video.

And for the paranoid among you who believe the government black helicopters are coming to take you away ... At the end of the video is film of NASA's black helicopter which patrols during launches. Yes, it's armed.

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