At 11 AM on May 11th, my Grandpa and I pulled up to a parking lot in Florida to watch the space shuttle Atlantis lift off from Kennedy Space Center. It was not too cool on this 95 degree day! There were other people gathered there, and we all shared our binoculars and camera equipment and ice from our coolers while we waited. It was a very interesting group and people were definitely excited!
At 2:01 PM I looked through my binoculars to see the shuttle take off. We were only five miles away from the launch site. I could see a line of fire in the sky trailing 20 feet behind the shuttle. And the sound was loud! I could see the shuttle take off and fly through the sky, but didn’t hear the sound for a full 30 seconds afterward. In fact, the shuttle was going so fast that it was out of sight before the sound from the liftoff reached us.
Did you know?
- The launch can be so loud that it could damage the launch pad. So, they use water to quiet the sound.
- This has been the first launch in history to have two shuttles on the launch pad ready to go at the same time. The second shuttle is there to handle repairs in case the first shuttle is damaged.
- The purpose of this launch is to send astronauts out to work on the Hubble telescope. But this is the last time. If the Hubble needs more work after this trip, it will be destroyed. Another shuttle will be sent to push the Hubble telescope into the Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up.
Noah is 10 years old and in the 4th grade. Noah’s mom works at Tutor.com, and sent us this story.