Friday, September 21, 2012

Shuttle Spotting: Endeavour Visits Sacramento

I woke up early this morning, packed up the baby, and headed down to the California State Capitol to try and catch a glimpse of history in the making. It's not every day that you get to see a Space Shuttle piggybacking on a 747 no matter what city you live in, and for Sacramento, this may have been to most exciting thing to happen here, like ever. It was a rare sight indeed; It turns out that during the Space Shuttle program, there were fewer ferry flights involving the shuttle than actual flights into space and today was THE LAST shuttle mission, ever.

With last minute details of the flight plan being somewhere between top-secret and non-existent, it was hard to know exactly where to go for the best view, so I took my chances and headed to the grassy mall area to the west of the Capitol building. People lined the rooftops of surrounding buildings downtown and my excitement grew as cues from them helped me find N905NA and Shuttle Endeavor as they emerged almost directly overhead! We got lucky; instead of seeing this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle only once, those of us in Sacramento got to see it twice after the plane circled to the north and headed back over a second time. Here are a few of the pictures I was able to snap. I hope you enjoy them!
People on the roof of the Capitol Building in Sacamento awaiting the arrival of Endeavor

The capitol mall

Rooftop spectators

Positive sighting

There it it!

Flying VERY low

Space Shuttle Endeavor and the 747 N905NA

Passing to the north

Wait! Come back!

On their second pass over the Capitol :)


I feel very lucky I got to see this, but at the same time it's a very sad day. NASA is just a mere shadow of what it once was and manned space flight in this country seems to have come to and end (hopefully it's temporary). I made it back home from downtown in time to watch live on tv as the shuttle landed at LAX and that's when it hit me that it's all over. In the world I grew up in, space flight was routine. I realized my son will never get a chance to watch the magic of a shuttle launch on tv like I did so many times as a kid, and for loss of better words, that sucks, however I'm still glad to have shared today with him. I doubt he'll remember it, but he was there, he saw it, and I hope someday he is able to draw inspiration from that as he sets out on journeys and adventures all his own.

Additional reading:
Did you know the Space Shuttle Endeavour was named after the ship Captain Cook sailed through the South Seas? More about the shuttle: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/shuttleoperations/orbiters/endeavour-info.html
Also some interesting stuff about the 747's you seldom head about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuttle_Carrier_Aircraft
I wonder where they'll be headed...


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