STS-133: Discovery’s Last Launch

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It’s been a childhood dream to see a Space Shuttle launch and only with the threat of the program ending have I put a concerted effort towards actually getting there to see it. Last fall I spent a week on the Space Coast in Florida waiting for STS-133, the Shuttle Discovery to fly it’s last mission. Each day they delayed the launch until finally I couldn’t afford to spend more time in Florida and they scrubbed the launch for at least a few weeks.

After months of going over the leaky fuel tank and related components the launch was scheduled again for 24 Feb 2011 and I was there, again.

As I suspected, after having so much time to get ready for the launch, Discovery was ready to go and lifted off without a hitch, much less any major holds in the countdown sequence.

At the range of about 7 miles on the 5th floor of a condo complex where some friends have a unit I got to see, hear and feel the excitement of witnessing humans breaking away from the grasp of gravity into space. It is awe inspiring.

STS-133 carried a storage module to the International Space Station as well as a new and permeant crew member: Robonaut 2.

Being so far away, the photos are meager, but descriptive of witnessing a launch. It all happened in silence until the sound waves traveled the 7 miles to get to me and then rumbled like continuous thunder. I didn’t feel the force of the launch, but I did feel the excitement of the moment though the cheers of my fellow observers on the balcony. I used a Canon 5D with a Tameron 70-300mm lens with a 2x teleconverter giving me an effective 600mm.


STS-133 Discovery Space Shuttle Launch

Zoom of the image above:
STS-133 Discovery Space Shuttle Launch

STS-133 Discovery Space Shuttle Launch

STS-133 Discovery Space Shuttle Launch

STS-133 Discovery Space Shuttle Launch

STS-133 Discovery Space Shuttle Launch

About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded Offyonder.com in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, Mountainzone.com and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.

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