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05/16/11 - I witness the final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour, on her last mission: STS-134

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id: 33337
The A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway, the bridge we camped out on to watch the launch
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The view of the launch pad from our vantage point on top of the bridge
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The VAB is looking good in the sunset
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Zoomed out a little more so you can see the launchpad (on the left) and the VAB on the right
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Zoomed a little more out. This is more or less what it looked like to the unaided eye.
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Believe it or not, we weren't the first group on the bridge. These people had been camping out all day!
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James tests out the binoculars
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A beautiful Florida sunset
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James waits for a long night as the VAB sits in the distance
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A destination from an earlier time
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At this point, the bridge was still empty
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A 120 second exposure of thet launch pad and VAB. The bright spotlights on the shuttle really light up the sky
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A fellow photographer checks his camera in the early morning light
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Positioning cameras..
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There were a lot of boats on the intercoastal waterway
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James' decision to buy a sleeping bag really paid off in the end
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As the sun rose, more and more people turned out on the bridge
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Awaiting the sun
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Lots of photographers were making final calibrations to their setup
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At this point, these guys had been on the bridge for almost 24 hours
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Our empty bridge is filling up!
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A camera pointed towards the launch site
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That is one hell of a lens
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This guy with the blanket and the can made me laugh
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What a crazy dude!
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A wild dolphin!
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The launchpad, seen through the morning mist
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The VAB is so massive it's difficult to think about
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The sun is almost here..
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Finally, the sun peeked up above the cloud bank
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Sunlight falls on the waiting masses
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A crane?
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Nice backpack
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At this point, lots of normal people started showing up since it wasn't so crazy early
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I'm really glad i eschewed "Space Park", that place is packed!
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The police shut down the bridge two hours before the launch
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I took this picture for Bryce. He thinks those "Big Dog" shirts are ridiculous
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The bridge is really filling up!
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There were several street vendors selling various NASA gear
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I believe this is the T-38 piloted by astronaut Steven Lindsey as he gauges the crosswinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility
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A boat hurries to the small island closer to the launch site
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Another dolphin!
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The big moment is here at last! Main engines start, SRB ignition, and liftoff of Space Shuttle Endeavour!
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The camera automatically took pictures while I watched with my naked eyes. It was almost too bright to look at
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Photos cannot do it justice. It is simply breathtaking. It was absolutely worth all of the time and effort
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The exhaust plume puncturing the low lying clouds
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Now here's something I don't recall seeing before.. the swirly aftermath of the exhaust plume
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The clouds blocked the shuttle from our view, but the seeing the shadow of the exhaust plume cast on it spanning the sky was incredible
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It spanned across the entire sky
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Me and the remnants of Endeavour's exhaust plume
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I don't know how I've never seen this before!
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One last look at the launch site. Time to head home.
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Mass exodus!
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There was a scramble to get on the roads before the filled up
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But of course.. they filled up immediately anyway. Worth it!
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