Space Shuttle Atlantis Abstract Kennedy Space Center Museum, Florida
We have finally returned to launching Americans on a US launch vehicle from US soil. The SpaceX launch vehicle with the Crew Dragon onboard provided this signifiant milestone in our revitalized Space Program on 30 May. We have a new horizon of Space exploration ahead of us with defined programs to return to the moon and send Americans to Mars. This will happen in my life time!
I remember the launch of the Sputnik when I was in grade school. This was followed by our country’s aggressive program to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. I remember the Gemini Program highlighted by Shepard’s first flight into space and John Glenn’s record orbit around the earth. I remember the failures and successes of the Apollo program, culminating in Armstrong’s first step on the Moon in the summer of 1969. I also remember the miracle of Apollo 13.
While at Boeing, I had the opportunity to work with several of the engineers and leaders who were an integral part of the Apollo Saturn V rocket program, the Lunar Rover program and the Space Shuttle program. I moved to Washington, DC and was Boeing’s technical liaison between our Seattle staff and NASA. I met Michael Collins, the astronaut who stayed in the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. I worked with General Abramson, the ex-Shuttle Program Manager, on Strategic Defense Initiative programs. I watched the Challenger disaster with several of my Boeing associates in our Washington, DC Control Room. One of my bosses became the leader of the Space Station Integration program. I was part of our National Space Program.
When we exited from space launch programs with the last Shuttle flight in 2011, I felt a deep loss of US leadership in Space. Now after 9 years, we have made our first significant step toward the World’s New Horizon. We have returned … How proud it makes me feel.
“For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon, and to the planets beyond and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.”
John F. Kennedy
Six years can make a tremendous difference. When I visited Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 2014, the attitude of many of the KSC employees was very negative. President Obama had recently cut significant funding for NASA and the Space Program. The Administration was pushing for commercial ventures to move the Space Program forward. Severe cutbacks were being made across the Program. Many KSC employees did not see a future ahead for them.
This March during our visit to KSC, things seemed quite different. There was a a flurry of activity preparing for future launches. International commercial joint ventures had taken over the responsibility for commercial launches. Programs are being put in place to return to the Moon and to launch manned space flights to Mars. Global governmental and private entities are binding together to tackle this venture. Funding is being provided by private, commercial, and governmental sources.
Where have I been? I am embarrassed to say, but my eyes have been closed to news regarding the International Space Program for years. I was totally taken back to the level of activity going on. It made me want to put my childhood “Space Cadet Wings” back on. Kennedy’s vision is moving forward!
Canon 7D, EF-S10-22mm @ 12mm, f/4.0, 1/8000 sec, ISO 800
These solid rocket boosters and external tank guard the entrance of the Kennedy Space Center Atlantis Shuttle exhibit. The wide angle perspective of my 10-22mm lens reduces the impact of of just how huge these structures are. I was in awe as I looked up. The image below is the view looking straight up. I got dizzy and almost fell over as I tried to balance this image in my viewfinder.
This post ends my series on the Atlantis Space Shuttle. I encourage all to take the time and visit our space heritage when in the Orlando area.
Canon 7D, EF-S10-22mm @ 10mm, f/4.0, 1/30 sec, ISO 1600
This is the best I could do at getting an overall view of Atlantis using my widest angle lens. As I mentioned in my first post in this series, I could not capture the the full image of the shuttle. You just have to go there and visit in person.
Canon 7D, EF-S10-22mm @ 10mm, f/4.0, 1/13 sec, ISO 1600
This image of the shuttle’s belly was a tough one for me to get. Shooting directly up at my widest perspective and slow shutter speed made me dizzy. I almost fell down. It took me several tries to get a decent image with the shuttle balanced in the frame.
Canon 7D, EF-S10-22 @ 22mm, f4.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 800
This image is of the shuttle bay and hatch looking toward the tail. Boeing provided the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) that propelled satellites into higher earth orbits from the shuttle bay. Several of my close associates worked directly with NASA on these programs.
I used NIK Silver EFEX Pro’s selective color to preserve the blue and red of our Flag.
Canon 7D, EF-S10-22mm@ 10mm, f/4, 1/200 sec, ISO 800
Chills ran through my body … the theater screen lifted and Atlantis was directly in front of me. I cannot explain the sensation that passed though me as I saw the shuttle only a few feet away. No image can replicate what I saw or felt. Memories of working with NASA as a Boeing technical representative in Washington, DC during the Shuttle Program’s “hey days” ran through my mind. Memories of watching the Challenger launch along with my Boeing associates brought tears to my eyes. As I walked around Atlantis, my whole body was shaking. It was almost impossible to hold my camera up for a steady image. After about a half hour I had settled down enough to take a few images. I will add more images In future posts. Like I mentioned earlier, I will not be able to create the image in my mind or the feeling in my heart when I saw this beautiful Bird.