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Spot the Shuttle
April 4, 2010 10:29 PM   Subscribe

Space Shuttle Discovery STS-131 is being fueled for a scheduled liftoff at 6:21 AM EST, and will be only the sixth twilight launch. Shuttle Discovery's trajectory towards the International Space Station will take it north, along the American eastern seaboard, visible to early risers as far north as New York.

Listen to live radio transmissions from Kennedy Space Center, watch it on NASA TV online or if you're in the visible path of STS 131, you might tune a scanner to 259.7 Mhz AM and hear some ground communications with the Shuttle.
posted by acro (56 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The only thing that would make this more awesome is if I lived on the Eastern Seaboard.
posted by The Potate at 10:45 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is also a (relatively) high definition NASA TV stream ... does anyone know how to access it? (I've been able to use it for earlier launches, but can't seem to find the URL now)
posted by Auden at 10:53 PM on April 4, 2010


I do wish the mainstream media would pay at least token heed to shuttle launches in situations short of complete disaster. I wouldn't have known this was happening if it hadn't shown up here.
posted by killdevil at 11:01 PM on April 4, 2010


NASA video stream, 1200/ks [640/480] (Yahoo.com)
posted by Auden at 11:01 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man. And there's not a cloud from here to NYC. If I saw this with my own eyes my head would be so asploded. T-Minus 4 hours and 18 minutes.
posted by Skygazer at 11:03 PM on April 4, 2010


Live comment stream at Nicovideo.com (a Japanese YouTube-like site. Don't ask me why they're doing this, I have no idea)
posted by shii at 11:03 PM on April 4, 2010


I mean from here to Cape Canaveral. I'm in NYC (Brooklyn).
posted by Skygazer at 11:05 PM on April 4, 2010


Auden's stream link worked great in VLC, thanks.
posted by acro at 11:09 PM on April 4, 2010


Weather Radar map.

There's such little precipitation. The Eastern seaboard is clean as a whistle.
posted by Skygazer at 11:15 PM on April 4, 2010


Quite exciting for us Huskers too.
posted by RavinDave at 11:19 PM on April 4, 2010


There are 3 women in the crew and a woman is currently headed for the ISS on a Russian craft. It will be the most women in space at the same time!
posted by girlhacker at 11:29 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mission Control at SomaFM if you are stoned. Spacevidcast for nice video and commentary. (Works on my iPhone, and probably that new toy you got)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:31 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mike Massimino, one of the astronauts from STS-125 (here on Twitter, and a totally fantastic CAPCOM), has a series of Behind the Scenes videos with the STS-131 crew and some of the training staff: vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3.

Also, some Twitter pages to watch for the next two weeks: MS4 Naoko Yamazaki, MS5 Clay Anderson, and ISS flight engineer Soichi Noguchi (worth following for the photos alone)
posted by casarkos at 12:04 AM on April 5, 2010


One of the mission specialists is a Japanese woman astronaut. That's why they are covering it. She will be only the second Japanese woman to ever go into space, and the first to go to the ISS.
posted by donkeymon at 12:11 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Furiousxgeorge: Mission Control at SomaFM if you are stoned.

That somaFM stream with the eerie music and mission control doing it's work live in the background, is brilliant.
posted by Skygazer at 12:20 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Instead of these eastbound launches, we need to get a spectacular westbound launch that takes it over the central United States. Plus the orbit will take them backwards in time, at least if all the sci fi shows I've seen are correct.
posted by crapmatic at 12:26 AM on April 5, 2010


Instead of these eastbound launches, we need to get a spectacular westbound launch that takes it over the central United States.

Docking at the space station would be a bit tricker that way, I would imagine.
posted by y2karl at 1:17 AM on April 5, 2010


Boy, I really wish you'd posted this a couple of days ago, I could have gotten into the visibility line with more warning. :(
posted by Malor at 1:21 AM on April 5, 2010


Up, headed out to the islands for a clear view!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:41 AM on April 5, 2010


That map shows the visibility extending to NH, if not ME. And at 6:21, I should be driving south....hope to see it!
posted by DU at 2:56 AM on April 5, 2010


T - 5 minutes and 10 seconds.

3:17am on the West Coast! Good thing tomorrow is a holiday..
posted by ageispolis at 3:16 AM on April 5, 2010


One minute.......
posted by pjern at 3:22 AM on April 5, 2010


Did anyone else see that Mach shockwave? Whoa!
posted by pjern at 3:25 AM on April 5, 2010


Traveling at 4500 mph now. Seeing the sun rise.
posted by ageispolis at 3:25 AM on April 5, 2010


I didn't see anything, back to bed. :(
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:34 AM on April 5, 2010


I tell you what- even though it's not really new, it's still a fucking miracle to me that we get live video from onboard the spaceship during launch. I remember watching the Mercury and Gemini launches on a 13 inch black and white TV where it was really difficult to see what the heck was going on.

I love living in the future.

Oh, and did anyone see the shot of the space station zooming past the moon?
posted by pjern at 3:36 AM on April 5, 2010


Great, just great.
I've lived in Orlando for a year and a half and am moving out next week, likely never to return.
I've been to two canceled shuttle launches.
I was up browsing the web when this launch happened.
I read about it TEN MINUTES after launch time.
I could have seen it from my bed.

So far this is a poopy day.
posted by lostburner at 3:37 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


y2karl: "Docking at the space station would be a bit tricker that way, I would imagine."

It's not the 35,000 mph closing rate that vaporizes you, it's the sudden stop at the end.
posted by pjern at 3:40 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


The best live feed you can get, IMHO, is if you have HDNET through your cable TV provider. The commentary isn't great, but they have fabulous live HD coverage that I just finished watching. Beautiful launch. I love this stuff.
posted by tgrundke at 3:50 AM on April 5, 2010


Instead of these eastbound launches, we need to get a spectacular westbound launch that takes it over the central United States...

...so it can drop those two big-ass boosters on a few people.

Or even more spectacularly, so it can lose control while it still has plenty of fuel and explode like the Fourth of July on somebody's Main Street.
posted by pracowity at 3:57 AM on April 5, 2010


I kept my eyes south and east as I drove. Suddenly, over the WalMart, I saw a dark streak of smoke. The launch!

I hurriedly changed lanes and pulled over into a deserted parking lot. I turned off the radio and opened the door to more directly drink in the life-altering experience. Soaring heavenward, the Shuttle was leaving a majestic trail across the sky. After many minutes of climbing steadily towards space, it became a little more visible.

It was a plane. Screw you, Science.
posted by DU at 4:35 AM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Clouds in CT, still a nice drive to the beach in the morning and an early train to work.
posted by sfts2 at 4:54 AM on April 5, 2010


It was fantastic to see!

I was out on White Marsh island in Savannah, GA with only the moon, stars and $#@ mosquitos as company. Suddenly from the horizon a candle flame shot up, bright orange against the blue black night sky. It climbed rapidly upwards, seemingly headed straight for the half moon suspended in the sky, before growing dimmer and seemingly winking out. All told, about 20 seconds. I was a bit underwhelmed and got into the car to leave, when another car drove up and a older gentleman got out and immediately started looking at the sky. I rolled down my window to tell him he had missed the launch and HOLY SHIT, there was the shuttle, flying low over the horizon as it literally shot across the sky, heading east.

You know those tv images you see of the shuttle after its gotten a ways up, somewhat grainy and white, the curve of the thrust pouring out solid rocket boosters, leaving a wispy contrail? It was just like that, accept clear as day, almost like special effect it was so clear, racing towards the rapidly glowing horizon, looking like a comet.

It was breathtaking and everyone in the world should be able to see something so amazingly beautiful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:04 AM on April 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


I just can't believe this is the next-to-last mission.

We haven't not had manned space flight as a constant in our lives in nearly 40 years. One small step backwards for man.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:25 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's the penultimate mission for the Discovery.

Atlantis is scheduled to have it's final mission on May 14, Endeavour's final launch is set for July 29, and Discovery will make the very last shuttle flight ever sometime this September.
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:54 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really hoping we'll get some awesome unmanned missions with the money saved by ending the shuttle program. Maybe I'm just an optimist, but I also really loved the Mars pathfinder missions.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:09 AM on April 5, 2010


Also, I will regret for the rest of my life that I missed it. Hey NASA! My backyard's free for your next launch if you don't mind that it's surrounded by woods and is at a 45 degree slant! Also, it's windy sometimes.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:10 AM on April 5, 2010


I'm a bit bummed... I had a ticket to see this but right after I bought it they rescheduled the liftoff for three weeks later, before dawn, on the day after Easter. I want to see one of the last launches but if they are going to pull that kind of junk, I don't think it's going to happen unless I move to Florida.
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on April 5, 2010


As a resident of the west coast of North America who can't witness the brute force of launch I participate by watching the space stuff fly over in the brief periods that present themselves.* A tool for that which is useful for countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe is here.

*You can only see the low orbiting stuff in what I'll call a "belt" of twilight and only if they are flying rather directly (for space stuff) above your location is the conclusion I came to.
posted by vapidave at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2010


Did not see a thing. Perhaps I wasn't high enough. Perhaps it was low on the horizon behind the skyline.

FRAK> !
posted by Skygazer at 9:31 AM on April 5, 2010


Here are a couple of great pictures taken from inside the Magic Kingdom during launch, with the shuttle rising behind Cinderella Castle:

Space Shuttle Discovery Soars Over Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World
posted by Lokheed at 9:50 AM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


We haven't not had manned space flight as a constant in our lives in nearly 40 years. One small step backwards for man.

We will still have manned space flight. Maybe not at NASA, but even in the US there are a lot of exciting developments coming in the commercial sector that have probably been delayed because of the existence of the shuttle. LEO freight delivery really shouldn't be NASA's mission.

Anyway, we'll see what proposals come out of the Florida space conference later this month. I suspect the shuttle will be extended.
posted by IanMorr at 9:56 AM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the clarification, ceribus peribus.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:10 AM on April 5, 2010


NASA should run a space lottery. Give out a few trips to watch launches or landings, plus a grand prize of a trip into space.
posted by pracowity at 11:50 AM on April 5, 2010


Let me second what vapidave linked to: NASA's Sighting Opportunities. Space Station flyovers may lack the visceral thrill of an actual launch, but can provide plenty of nerdy awesomeness of the "wow" kind.
posted by kgander at 11:54 AM on April 5, 2010


Let me second what vapidave linked to: NASA's Sighting Opportunities. Space Station flyovers may lack the visceral thrill of an actual launch, but can provide plenty of nerdy awesomeness of the "wow" kind.

That would work well with Google Sky Map for the Android phone. The most wonder and giddiness inducing app on any smartphone, that I've ever seen. It's pretty amazing.
posted by Skygazer at 12:13 PM on April 5, 2010


BTW It's an augmented reality (AR) thingy. One of the first.
posted by Skygazer at 12:14 PM on April 5, 2010


I didn't see anything here in Virginia. I guess the damn trees were in the way. Bah.
posted by cropshy at 2:15 PM on April 5, 2010


I was lucky enough to see it this morning about 12 miles away. I didn't have tickets, but you can see it the shuttle clearly from titusville's space view park. Its better than the visitor center, but not as good as the causeway.
posted by roguewraith at 3:37 PM on April 5, 2010


Sorry to hear about your missed chance, smackfu, but it was a great opportunity for us. We had already scheduled a vacation to Cocoa Beach and when they changed the date it was right at the beginning of our vacation. My wife was able to get tickets for the causeway through a tour company and we jumped on it. We had to leave our hotel at 10 pm with a sleepy 5 year old in tow and spent hours on a bus to and from the causeway, finally arriving back at the hotel at 10 am today. We were exhausted but all agree it was well worth it. The launch was spectacular, but one of the most unique things was seeing the ISS go overhead a few minutes before (the predawn timing was perfect) and watching the shuttle chase after it. It really gave a good feel for how the mechanics of docking with the ISS work.
posted by TedW at 4:26 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mr. Ant and I watched the launch from Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We arrived around 5:45am and met some college guys who were waiting for dawn to go hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The muffler had fallen off their car, so they chose not to idle it and therefore had no heat. They had been up all night, and they were cold.

We told them why we were there, and they were underwhelmed. I guess a night like theirs will suck the wonder right out of you. Just as the sun was pinking the horizon, we saw an orange cloud low in the sky, bearing South-Southeast. I'm not sure what rocket stage we witnessed, but the shuttle put on quite a show for us. Even the hikers were impressed.
posted by workerant at 6:59 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mr. Ant and I watched the launch from Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Nice story. That's the sorta serendipitous stuff that seems to happen when you're in college and stay up all night, and never forget.

It's a good thing someone Found a New Gap, so you guys could see the shuttle.

boo...
posted by Skygazer at 7:40 PM on April 5, 2010


It was a bright, red/purple, fast moving big dot in the sky, at the end of my street, between the big pine trees, with the view to the south, in Jacksonville, FL, a mile and a half inland of Atlantic Beach and Mayport, on the St. Johns River, about 6:24 a.m. this morning. A lot like the last mission's night launch, and just as unremarkable to my stupid dog, and his tiny bladder.

And yet, each time I see the rocket fire of an ISS Shuttle mission, because that's the particular Space Shuttle operation profile that forces the Shuttle to roll north, along Florida's Space Coast, and then, still further north, to the First Coast, where I live, I think to myself, "One less time I get to see Courage, in the red/blue/purple rocket fire of Americans bound for space."

Oh, I know that, when I first see it, low in the southern sky, the Shuttle has already burned away a million pounds of solid rocket and liquid fuel propellant, and that, 3 minutes north of Canaveral, the big drama of main (liquid) engine throttle down, max atmospheric stress, and main (liquid) engine throttle up, have all been achieved. By the time I ever see a Shuttle's fire, it's Go for orbit on only 2 main engines, and no astronauts have ever been in danger, on the Way Up, after that. I get to see, only, the Successes of an old dream, and I'd never see the failures. And that's OK by me, and, I guess, by my stupid dog.

3 Missions left, and then, Americans will just be hitchhikers, if that, if we can buy their way on board other countries' rockets, or those built by Virgins or other as-yet-unknown privateers, bound for black skies and bright stars. I'm just glad for Alan Shepard's ghost, that he didn't live long enough to see us quit trying to put people in space, as a nation, as a people. It would have been tough to explain that to him, particularly, I think, and I'm just as glad no one will have to do it.

Not because I have a lot of sympathy for those who would have to do that explaining, to Alan Shepard, had he lived to see the end of the Shuttle program (with no manned access to space behind it), or to his ghost, but because I have a lot of respect for Alan Shepard's memory, and think it would be insufferable to ask either him, in his Right Stuff flesh, or in his ghostly veil, to listen to such a huge pile of American fail.

In a few months, the skies at the end of my street aren't going to be lit by brilliant rocket fire carrying brave people to space, ever again, in my lifetime.

How can I say how sad I am?
posted by paulsc at 1:12 AM on April 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Grainy video I shot of the shuttle flying by.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 AM on April 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's neat Brandon, thanks!
posted by Skygazer at 7:50 AM on April 6, 2010


I watched the launch from a condo balcony in Naples, FL. Saw a bright orange light rising in the sky, then it turned to a white light that moved off to the northeast. My friend saw the boosters detach, because he was holding the binoculars. Absolutely clear sky, and just a hint of dawn light, which made the viewing almost perfect. It was a sight and I'm glad I got up early to see it.

Not sure of the exact distance between Cape Canaveral and Naples, but it was close enough.
posted by mnb64 at 9:01 PM on April 7, 2010


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