Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 11 Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch

Had a great roadtrip with my good friend Mac-KF4LMT down to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-125. This is the last visit by a Shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Mac and I left Savannah at 0700 for the drive down to Titusville. We arrived at 1100 and grabbed some lunch before heading over to the Max Brewer Memorial Parkway to find a good spot to view from. We parked the truck and set up to view alongside a fellow Ham, Doug-K4GKJ, who had made the trip over from Tallahassee. We had a clear view across the river to the launch pads about 12 miles away. We were in place by noon and began listening on the variety of radios and scanners that we brought along. I had my Yaesu VX-7R, Yaesu VX-2, and my Radio Shack Pro-96 Digital Scanner. Mac had his Uniden BC-396, Alinco DJ-X10T, Yaesu VX-7R, and Icom 91AD. Yes, we got some funny looks but we also met some nice people that were happy they could hear some of the stuff that we were monitoring. Over the weekend Mac and I both spent some time programming our respective scanners to monitor a variety of things in and around the Kennedy Space Center. Mac has done a great job of documenting this on his blog at

We were able to monitor the standard NASA feed via one of the local 2 meter repeaters on Merritt Island which was great. Probably my favorite monitoring of the day was the Weather Recon aircraft which was a NASA Gulfstream flown by Astronaut Steve Lindsey. We were able to both watch and hear him as he flew in and around the launch site providing real time info regarding local weather. Cool stuff.
And then of course the highlight was to be able to hear the air to ground comm from the shuttle as they blasted off and made thier standard assent checklist exchanges with flight control.
The launch was spectacular and my second. I'm looking forward to going back again to view at least one or two more before the Shuttle Program ends in 2010. The launch was greatly enhanced by being able to listen to all of the "behind the scenes" communications. Great stuff.
On the way back we met up in Brunswick for dinner with Kevin, WD0GFG who was supposed to have viewed the launch from a very interesting vantage point.....airborne in a private plane! However, bad weather in Savannah and along the Georgia Coast forced his pilot friend to scrub the flight. So Kevin jumped in his truck and headed south. He made it as far south as Daytona and was able to see the launch from there. Back in Savannah by 2030.

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