Click the arrow to watch the video on YouTube.
Back in April 2010, a friend invited me to watch the STS-131 launch with orbiter Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center press site across the Vehicle Assembly Building. The press site is about 3 ½ miles from Pad 39A.
Discovery launched at 6:21 AM on April 5, 2010. I used my camcorder to film the experience, not just the launch but what goes on nearby. You never see that on television.
In this video, you'll hear the launch commentary over the public address system, you'll see the Close Out Crew arrive after placing the astronauts aboard the orbiter, and you'll hear the ambient chatter.
At about the 5:20 mark, you'll see the International Space Station transit the Moon. Since the ISS is the orbiter's destination, of course Discovery has to launch when the station is flying overhead so they're on the same orbit.
At the 6:35 mark, you'll hear the T-minus five minute call. From that point, the video is continuous all the way through launch until the orbiter is a star on the horizon.
Be sure to crank up your speakers at the 11:30 mark to fully experience the sound of the launch.
Before the launch, I asked the gentleman in front of me not to stand in front of my camcorder. He assured me he'd comply, but he did it anyway as Discovery cleared the tower. After the launch, he turned to me and said, “Did I ruin your shot?” I replied, “Yes, but it's too late now.”
At the end of the video, you'll see up close KSC's black security helicopter after it lands on the helipad outside the VAB.