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STS-119 Finally Launches Into Space

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the third-time's-the-charm dept.

NASA 83

Iddo Genuth writes "After several delays, including twice over the past week, the space shuttle Discovery has finally been launched into space. The spacecraft took off at precisely 7:43 p.m. EDT, embarking on the STS-119 mission, which will provide the International Space Station with the fourth and final set of solar arrays — and which will make the ISS brighter than Venus. The shuttle will also deliver to the ISS its newest crew member, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will replace flight engineer Sandra Magnus at the station."

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so long (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27205935)

and thnx 4 all the fish.

Re:so long (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206011)

So long? Are you talking about my penis again?

fuck you (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206809)

Your father reeks of gasoline and your mother is a whore.

Re:so long (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27207801)

When will they ever talk about the things we really want to know:

1) Who has had sex in space?
2) What is zero-g ejaculation like? Does it make floating semen balls?
3) What about bendy straws for cleanup?
4) What does it feel like to fuck a goat in space?
5) How often do UFOs dock or simply do flybys?

Re:so long (1)

larpon (974081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27211053)

With a small chance of being informative...

2) What is zero-g ejaculation like? Does it make floating semen balls?

Actually zero g ejaculation has been done in a porn
Funny as it may sound the film was called Uranus Experiment.
-Which I guess is something you trolls do a lot (experimenting with Uranus that is)

They made it zero g the oldschool way in a plane that dropped altitude very fast
Some pornstars are fucking amazing (no pun intended)

heh, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27205947)

that's no moon!

Re:heh, (3, Funny)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206165)

That's a space station! And it really is, too!

Brighter than Venus (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27205961)

I hope I don't blind myself looking for it

Good Luck Boys (5, Interesting)

Rog-Mahal (1164607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27205983)

I hope there will be no footage of blown O-rings or damaged tiles. Shuttles are getting old. On another note, where could one get data on when the ISS will be overhead? I live in North-Eastern America and would love to catch a glimpse.

Re:Good Luck Boys (5, Informative)

antispam_ben (591349) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206035)

This site looks like just what you want:
http://www.heavens-above.com/ [heavens-above.com]

Re:Good Luck Boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206351)

I just watched it pass overhead for the first time in my life. It makes me wish I'd been alive to watch the Mercury and Apollo missions. I recommend it to anyone who can see it.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

Rog-Mahal (1164607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206467)

Thanks.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27207121)

NASA's satellite sighting page is also very good:

http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/

Re:Good Luck Boys (2, Insightful)

dwhitaker (1500855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206283)

Getting old? Shuttles are old - the Discovery alone is 25 years old and the Enterprise first flew in 1977. Hopefully the next generation of spacecraft will be able to last as long (or longer) in a very reliable fashion.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

Lurker (1078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206789)

Getting old? Shuttles are old - the Discovery alone is 25 years old and the Enterprise first flew in 1977. Hopefully the next generation of spacecraft will be able to last as long (or longer) in a very reliable fashion.

I didn't think the shuttle Enterprise ever actually went into space, am I not remembering correctly?

Re:Good Luck Boys (4, Informative)

dwhitaker (1500855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206891)

You are remembering correctly: it didn't, but it did do atmospheric flights for testing purposes. Also, at one point they were considering outfitting it for space flight after the loss of the Challenger but chose to build Endeavour from leftover parts instead due to cost. With the possibility it had (or has) of being outfitted for space, I think it warrants inclusion when talking about the family of space shuttles for statistical purposes in some categories.

Re:Good Luck Boys (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27208041)

It's sitting in the Smithsonian Annex at Dulles on public display.

The reason they built Endeavour is because Enterprise lacked a number of improvements to the flight design made in building Columbia and the other shuttles. Retrofitting Enterprise would have been more expensive than building Endeavour was.

Re:Good Luck Boys (2, Informative)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27214257)

Not to mention because Enterprise was a prototype which was never intended to fly in space, it is way over built. As such, it is the heaviest shuttle ever created. Because of its weight it could have barely achieved LEO, making it unable to service many of the missions to which the other shuttles currently service.

In short, making Enterprise space-ready means paying more for less capability than what is achieved with Endeavour.

Re:Good Luck Boys (4, Insightful)

spacefiddle (620205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206807)

At this point i'm hoping there will be a "next generation of spacecraft" in my lifetime.

where's that... one sec:

I always knew I'd see the first man on the Moon. I never thought I'd see the last.
Dr. Jerry Eugene Pournelle

The people have spoken (-1, Troll)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27208741)

"We'd" rather have the US turned into an EU-style socialist ghetto
than continue to have the US lead in space and overall human development.
It's more important that we all fail together than support a few succeeding, and then subsequently dragging the rest along.
Democracy is not a grant of corporate wisdom, alas.
But we get these velvet handcuffs as a consolation prize.

Re:The people have spoken (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209859)

What's "EU-style socialism"? It can't be anything like socialism, since the EU isn't a socialist state.

And remind me again, how exactly did the US "lead in space"? Was that through private means of production, or a Government funded organisation?

Re:The people have spoken (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209949)

Was that through private means of production, or a Government funded organisation?

Both. The Government didn't build spacecraft. It gave a mandate to private industry to do it.

Re:The people have spoken (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27210171)

By "mandate" you mean money as well as the decision. I'm aware that companies sometimes build parts, but in a socialist state, the work is still done by the people or organisations - the point is that the decisions and the money come from the state. And NASA are not private industry in any meaningful sense.

My point being, if someone is going to make a troll-ish statement about capitalism versus socialism, space exploration right now is the last example you want to pick! (And I speak as someone who is pro-capitalist for the most part. Living in the non-socialist UK.)

Re:The people have spoken (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27216019)

By "mandate" you mean money as well as the decision. I'm aware that companies sometimes build parts, but in a socialist state, the work is still done by the people or organisations - the point is that the decisions and the money come from the state. And NASA are not private industry in any meaningful sense.

Just because the initial entry into and exploration of space was done by public institutions, doesn't mean it had to be that way. If we'd let the porn industry find a way to commercialize it, we'd have fry cooks on Venus by now.

Re:The people have spoken (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 5 years ago | (#27215057)

Well doy. "The Government" doesn't run a national health service- it pays doctors to. "The Government" doesn't run an army- it pays soldiers to.

"The Government" is just a fancy term for about 1000 people who make laws and dish out money. A "Government Project" isn't one where politicians do all the work, it's one where the Government is the principal financial backer.

"The Government" built spacecraft in that the scientists who designed it were paid by the government and the companies who assembled it were paid by the government and the fuel that ran it was bought by the government and the astronauts who flew it were government employees. Whether some parts of that chain also involved corporations is neither here nor there.

Re:The people have spoken (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27215951)

And remind me again, how exactly did the US "lead in space"? Was that through private means of production, or a Government funded organisation?

Well, both, actually. NASA didn't build most of the stuff that went into space; private companies did.

Re:The people have spoken (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27217929)

NASA didn't build most of the stuff that went into space; private companies did.

And food stamps are not socialist because the food was manufactured by private companies.

Re:The people have spoken (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27226079)

NASA didn't build most of the stuff that went into space; private companies did.

And food stamps are not socialist because the food was manufactured by private companies.

In a really truly socialist country, the food isn't manufactured by private companies; it's manufactured by the State Ministry of Nutrition or whatever.

Re:The people have spoken (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27230267)

Whoosh!

Re:The people have spoken (1)

smithmc (451373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243423)

Whoosh!

No, I got you, I just don't buy your position. "Socialist" is a term that gets misused a lot. Food stamps are not socialist. State ownership or control of the means of production is socialist. If the government told the food manufacturers, "you must give away 20% of your annual production to the poor", that would be socialist. Nobody forced the Apollo program contractors to participate; their work was not forcibly expropriated. NASA (and food stamps) may be Keynesian in nature, but they're not socialist.

Re:Good Luck Boys (2, Interesting)

GregNorc (801858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27210087)

You are already seeing the next generation [wikipedia.org] of spacecraft.

Soyuz is a type of craft... not a specific model.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27213345)

Getting old? Shuttles are old - the Discovery alone is 25 years old

So what? Outside of the consumer products, equipment and vehicles in the real world routinely stay in service for decades.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

dwhitaker (1500855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27215403)

But when a fleet of equipment/vehicles/whathaveyou stays in service for decades, it is usually getting repairs, maintenance, and upgrades to help it stay useful. I know the shuttles are maintained, but the cost of this may be starting to get too high.

Considering that there have only been 5 shuttles made for spaceflight and 2 of them have been destroyed, I think age is a factor that needs to be considered, even if the two causes for shuttle disasters were not directly related to age.

Re:Good Luck Boys (-1, Offtopic)

sydneylobo (1501541) | more than 5 years ago | (#27207453)

That's Excellent i am agreed with your comment I hope there will be no footage of blown O-rings or damaged tiles. Shuttles are getting old. On another note, where could one get data on when the ISS will be overhead? I live in North-Eastern America and would love to catch a glimpse. Great i look forward to reading more. Sydney MINUTETRADERS | Voice Exchange - Buy/Sell Wholesale AZ VoIP Termination Routes [minutetraders.com]

Re:Good Luck Boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27207985)

I have no modpoints today, someone mod this spammer offtopic.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27213823)

I hope there will be no footage of blown O-rings or damaged tiles. Shuttles are getting old.

I wish people would stop saying this. While technically true its also misleading and surrounded by an endless list of exceptions.

Simple fact is, the reason the shuttle costs so dang much to send into space after each mission is because so much of it is replaced and refurbished after each flight. Literally every inch of wiring is reviewed. All suspect wear components are replaced. This basically leaves the structure it self which is routinely x-rayed like jets. Unlikely jets, each flight is also modelled to analyze stresses induced from the flight, both before (using historic data) and after (using obtained sensor data). Furthermore, all of the sensor data is reviewed and analyzed to determine if anything else requires additional preview.

The previous shuttle accidents have had absolutely nothing to do with the shuttles age. Rather, the accidents have occurred because of failure to followed established procedures and failure to listen to the engineers responsible for various components involved in the failures. Simply put, human error has been the single root cause in all known shuttle accidents and at no point in time has the shuttle's age even been an established component in those failures.

Its more accurate to say, "I hope there will be no footage of people not following procedure or damaged as a result of humans not following procedure. People are getting old." But I guess that factually correct statement isn't really as provocative.

Long story short, age is not a first order factor. Any components which would have fallen into this characterization have already been replaced.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

Rog-Mahal (1164607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27217501)

I'm sorry, but the things have been going for 25+ years in some cases. You can't keep hauling the same hardware into space and expect something not to fail that wasn't anticipated. I get preventative maintenance on my car, that doesn't mean it's going to run for the next 60 years.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27220687)

Your car doesn't see 1/1000 the care and attention airplanes receive on an annual basis. Airplanes don't receive 1/100000 the care the shuttle receives after each flight.

Get back to me when you fully disassemble your car annually, bore scope the engine, remove the pistons, allowing for cylinder and crank analysis, perform metallurgical analysis of your oil after each change, x-ray your chassis and frame, ensure it is never overloaded, so on and so on. There are many 50-year old planes which are in better shape than six month old cars; and the spread only gets larger as cars age. And keep in mind, planes on an annual basis, don't receive anywhere near the attention the space shuttle does after each and every flight.

The largest concern with the life of a shuttle is fatigue and they closely monitor this - which is exactly why they X-ray and use many other technologies to look for precursors for fatigue, before it can ever become a factor.

There is a long list of factors which are likely to take out a shuttle and age is nowhere near the top of that list. First and foremost are human factors. Heck, even working against it is the fact the space shuttle is the most complex piece of technology ever assembled by man; as complexity has never been a plus under the safety column.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

Rog-Mahal (1164607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221203)

I dunno, I figure arguing about it here is pointless. I just thought that factors like fatigue would become more of a factor over time. I also think that a piece of technology becoming outdated also has something to do with, well, time. Of course human error has its place, but these machines are, in fact, old. Old in design, perhaps more than old in materials. It's still valid to call it old, and I think it's still a good idea to develop a new orbiter.

Re:Good Luck Boys (1)

Paul server guy (1128251) | more than 5 years ago | (#27236725)

It also occurs to me that, since the Shuttles complexity is it's downfall, it should be replaced with something simple. There is no need for it to be that complex, and believing so is a byproduct of listening to people who are trying to keep their jobs, or support the monstrous space segment of the aerospace community. It can be done lighter and cheaper, by an order of magnitude. Look at SpaceX or OpenLuna...

Full Power for Full Science (2, Insightful)

stox (131684) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206039)

I really liked that line.

Re:Full Power for Full Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206815)

me too! it has stuck with me.

Fly-over times (1)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206071)

Can somebody recommend a website or an application which can be used to calculate the fly-over times of the spaceshuttle and/or the ISS from a certain location on this planet? I would love to show a special "star" to my little boy.

Re:Fly-over times (4, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206117)

NASA, surprise, surprise.

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/tracking/ [nasa.gov]

Suck it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206589)

I want to chill my cock in your mouth.

Re:Fly-over times (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209289)

I had that page open along with Realplayer live stream at 4 AM in the morning on my poor G4 Mini 1.42 Ghz.

As poor thing doing live stream same time and java, there was some glitch in communications from NASA and I actually heard it like 8bit Atari 800xl explosion effect. Same time, Java not having enough CPU power made shuttle disappear instead of moving it.

Funny is, I had another friend in same setup using dual core Macbook and he swears same thing happened on his machine.

Re:Fly-over times (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206121)

As someone else posted www.heavens-above.com is pretty good. They don't have the Shuttle's track on there yet but it should be close to the ISS's.

The ISS will be almost directly overhead where I am (Indiana) tomorrow night, I'm hoping the shuttle will be visible as well. I don't know how close they are in their orbits right now though.

Re:Fly-over times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206245)

They will have the Shuttle's track online when the orbital elements are published. What is really fun is watching the shuttle and ISS prior to docking or after separation. For a few days before and after it is really cool to watch them 'in formation'.

Re:Fly-over times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27207045)

Course you always have to remember that "in formation" to you on the ground is generally not even in viewing distance from orbit

Re:Fly-over times (5, Informative)

drawlight (1494543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206253)

Spaceweather.com has a simple Satellite Flybys/Satellite Tracker. http://www.spaceweather.com/flybys/ [spaceweather.com]

Re:Fly-over times (3, Informative)

Paul server guy (1128251) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206393)

I like http://www.n2yo.com/?s=25544 [n2yo.com] [n2yo.com]

http://www.n2yo.com/?s=99999 [n2yo.com] [n2yo.com]

and http://www.n2yo.com/passes/?s=33442&tz=GMT-05:00 [n2yo.com] [n2yo.com] is fun/interesting as well.

It's fun to have all three up at once, Discovery is right over my head now...

Re:Fly-over times (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209085)

I prefer www.heavens-above.com. He has better choices for satellite viewing and has Iridium Flare sighting information as well. Make sure you create an account so that you get info for your location.

Brighter than Venus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206079)

And it will even have arms!

Got to see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206269)

Tonight was the first time I've gotten to see the shuttle launch. I went out to walk the dogs and saw half my neighbors standing in the street. They pointed up and I was like "Woah!" It was a really cool sight; huge smoke trail and super bright.

According to various authors, we should be at (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206513)

According to various authors, we should be at Jupiter and beyond by now. What's this piddle about an ISS then? And it's not really a "space station", is it? It's more of an orbiting "mobile home", and probably smells much worse.

I for one cannot get excited over this same ol' same ol' time after time and then do it again stuff.

My God Man! This is not NASCAR !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27216929)

We don't launch so you can see a crash! NASCAR is all about that, and don't even bring up F1 back in the days. The space program is 100x safer than car racing. Besides, that thing orbiting Jupiter will still be there in 3010. And Arthur C. is dead, and I would think, buried. Sorry about Scotty's ashes. We don't win them all!

Kewl, first Japanese, then (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206551)

my boyhood dreams of dueling space mecha warriors will come true after all.

Strangely enough, one of them is a transformer that morphs into something that resembles the old International Space Station...

"Koichi, this is Sandra."

Great Job NASA @ crew. (1)

Paul server guy (1128251) | more than 5 years ago | (#27206597)

Beautiful launch, and I am very much looking forward to the mission, But what I want to know is why was did CNN and Fox have better/more interesting coverage than NASA TV? (Leave it to NASA to make something as spectacular and awe inspiring as a launch and make it so boring/mundane. I ended up having NASA TV, FOX and CNN all on.

NASA should kick them a couple bucks (or whatever) and let them do the coverage... We need to get more people interested in Space, and with that boring coverage, you are not going to get the common person excited about Space.

Still, even with all of that, I was again inspired... Great Job on the launch NASA.

Re:Great Job NASA @ crew. (2, Insightful)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27207305)

gosh I don't know, maybe NASA's slightly more interested in getting plain facts out instead of hyping every latest piece of new information to maximum sensationalistic mediagasm proportions?

Re:Great Job NASA @ crew. (1)

Octorian (14086) | more than 5 years ago | (#27208643)

Point taken. However, from my own experiences trying to watch NASA TV, I think there's really just one simple thing that they could do. This simple thing would go a *long* way towards the channel being watchable and interesting. What is this simple thing?

Fire the half-asleep drunken hobo who runs their A/V control room, and replace them with someone at least half-way competent!

Re:Great Job NASA @ crew. (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209005)

gosh I don't know, maybe NASA's slightly more interested in getting plain facts out instead of hyping every latest piece of new information to maximum sensationalistic mediagasm proportions?

Since when?

Re:Great Job NASA @ crew. (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209365)

He must have tuned 1 or more hours earlier than actual launch, I did too and man it was really really boring. I didn't want to lose my spot on realserver so I kept it open.

You don't air any live event like that. They aired the media feed to NASA TV watchers. It was like definition of ''dead air'' for TV broadcast newbies.

Speaking of the Fox, CNN style broadcasting, there was a guy on NASA TV, trying to explain (why?!) what it means to have 30KW power. Man, it is NASA TV, you don't have to explain 30KW especially as ''30 homes''. If there is a house using 1000 watts of power at idle time, owner should be given to Greenpeace to get executed.

Re:Great Job NASA @ crew. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27210009)

If there is a house using 1000 watts of power at idle time

It's actually not that hard to get there, particularly if you have "luxuries" like a swimming pool or hot tub.

owner should be given to Greenpeace to get executed.

Why, because they aren't living the lifestyle that you approve of? What if they are paying extra for wind power or some such?

Re:Great Job NASA @ crew. (1)

Paul server guy (1128251) | more than 5 years ago | (#27211303)

If NASA's is to deliver plain facts to - the American Public - They need to do so in a manner that they can understand, or, perhaps more importantly, /want/ to understand. It's like the difference between a dry textbook or "Popular Science" or "New Scientist" Why are their subscription rates so much higher than your average peer-reviewed journal? (Other than the insane costs - but their are ways to get the same info free/cheap) Simple, the information is presented in an easy to understand way, with enough technical detail to keep the enthusiast interested, and enough education to keep the layman interested.

How hard is that?

It would have been nice to have someone (A fan preferably) talking during the dead times, an explanation of the holds, explaining what the various maneuvers meant, some graphics. All fairly easy to do, but all NASA wants to do is run the camera. (a minute and a half late?)

Great E/PO opportunity lost - again...

Not quite accurate (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206675)

The spacecraft took off at precisely 7:43 p.m. EDT

Having watched NASA's official feed, I can inform you this is incorrect. The precise time was 7:43:44 EDT.

Precision Problem? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27207725)

The precise time was 7:43:44 EDT.

How precise could that time be when the Shuttle takes a second or two to get moving? It's not exactly a quicky off the pad in the way the Saturn V's were.

Re:Precision Problem? (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 5 years ago | (#27208415)

Actually, compared to the Saturn V, the shuttle stack seems to jump off the pad.

The Saturn V seemed to take an eternity to clear the tower.

Re:Precision Problem? (1)

purfledspruce (821548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27208493)

It's the solid rocket boosters that make the difference. Each SRB provides about 2.8 million pounds of thrust at sea level. 5.6 million pounds of thrust gives quite a kick!

Re:Precision Problem? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209555)

It also helps that the shuttle system, including boosters and the external tank, is a heck of a lot lighter than a Saturn V.

Re:Precision Problem? (1)

purfledspruce (821548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209669)

Wow, you're right--I never looked that up. Shuttle masses just over 2,000,000 pounds and Saturn V was just over 3,000,000 pounds. Thanks! Love the space trivia...

Re:Precision Problem? (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27211113)

Fully fueled, the Saturn V weighed about 6 million pounds. Each F-1 in the first stage was about 1.5million pounds of thrust for a total of 7.5million pounds. The Shuttle weighs about 4.5 million pounds fully fueled.

Re:Precision Problem? (2, Informative)

Petrini (49261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27214775)

Actually, compared to the Saturn V, the shuttle stack seems to jump off the pad.

It doesn't seem to... it does. The shuttle main engines are ignited 6-7 seconds before "0" or launch because they take that long to work up to their working thrust. If you ever see a close up of the orbiter during the final ten seconds, you'll see it rock a little from a slightly leaned-back angle to straight vertical as this happens.

The solid rocket boosters are bolted to the platform to prevent the shuttle stack from launching (or toppling) while that's happening. Imagine a car -- since this is /. -- spinning its tires in place before dropping the brake. That's what's happening. When the countdown hits 0, the SRBs have been ignited as well, and the shuttle is either going to be released or tear itself free. That's why those bolts are explosive. They pop off and the shuttle is gone.

The shuttle stack doesn't seem to leap off the pad, it really, really does.

Re:Precision Problem? (1)

Jivecat (836356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27210023)

Actually, the Range reports a precise liftoff time down to the millisecond, based on first motion of the vehicle. In this case, it was 7:43:44.074 p.m. EDT according to Spaceflight Now [spaceflightnow.com] .

Nice View (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27207509)

I videotaped the launch from Titusville and it was pretty amazing even from 10-some miles away. The horizon lit up, and all of a sudden it was flying. Then the sound hit, and it sounded like ... well, a rocket. Nothing quite sounds like a rocket.

Brighter than Venus? (1)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209057)

... So is Chuck Norris. Big deal. Call me when it's brighter than the Sun.

Re:Brighter than Venus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27214145)

Chuck Norris could be brighter than the Sun if he felt like it.

Gorgeous launch (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27209905)

I'm in Florida and was able to walk into the street to see the launch. Absolutely gorgeous. It happened at sunset so the plume was colored just like clouds would be during a sunset - white, yellow, pink, and orange. Here's a pic of how it looked [flickr.com] (not shot by me, but that's how it looked where I was. Search Flickr for STS 119 for more.) Also, it was a perfectly clear day and you could easily see the boosters for a long time after separation. Thanks for the great show NASA, and good luck spacemen!

Re:Gorgeous launch (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222685)

Weaving around a bit, wasn't it? Someone should check the pilot's alcohol level - and let them know that flying a shuttle while drunk could be risky.

It was awesome! (1)

DoctorPepper (92269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27216021)

The wife and I stepped out into our driveway and watched the shuttle until it disappeared to the east. We weren't the only ones, about half of the neighborhood was out watching.

Kind of reminded me of the rocket launches back when I was a kid in South Carolina.

The bat (1)

Comtraya (1306593) | more than 5 years ago | (#27221061)

Apparently there was a bat hanging on the External Tank when it launched.

I wonder what happened to it...

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