NASA and United Space Alliance, on October 28th, launched the ARES 1-X rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The ARES 1-X rocket is a test rocket for the new ARES & Constellation programs. These programs are the future USA & NASA's manned spaceflight program. This program will replace the Space Shuttle program, whose entire fleet retires just a handful of launches from now, in late 2010.
The ARES 1-X was the first launch of a rocket of this type. This launch was unmanned, ad served to test thousands of elements of this rocket, including boost power, flight control, navigation, avionics, sensors, etc. The next test launch is scheduled for no earlier than 2015, so this historical launch was the only opportunity to see the rocket first hand for years to come.
Originally, I had planned to shoot from a 'secret location' that one talented photographer Cliff Steenhoff had educated me on. It was through the woods, in the swamps, down a dirt road - just North of the restricted zone. Cliff, myself, and another launch fan Ted all spent hours and hours out there for the original launch attempt window on October 27th.
After the launch was scrubbed for the 27th due to triboelectrification and other rules, Ted and I visited Titusville's "Miracle Photo" in search of a screw for my Jobu gimbal head's Arca-Swiss plate.
While we were there, we bumped into a talented launch photographer named Alan Walters ( www.awaltersphoto.com ). We chatted about launch photography, exchanged info, and went our separate ways.
Several hours later, Alan called me up, requesting that I meet him at a local bar in Titusville. Alan was there with all types of folks from NASA & United Space Alliance. After a long chat about all kinds of photo geek things, Alan invited me to be a VIP at the onsite NASA Banana Creek viewing area!! The view from here is spectacular, and it is the closest that any 'exposed' human can witness a launch from!
Here are some photos from the launch, followed by some more info and links to additional photos and blogs:
ARES 1-X launch!
Many more photos of the Ares 1-X launch after the break! Click here! http://blog.willhawkinsphotography.com/2009/11/ares-1-x-launch-photos.html