All good things must come to an end, that saying could not not have been any more true when it came to photographing the Space Shuttle Program. Last week I photographed space shuttle Endeavour as she was ferried across the country on-top of a modified Boeing 747 known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for SpaceflightNow.com. While I have only been around these amazing machines for a little over two years, the experiences I have had and the people I have met have been incredible. Being an extremely small part of such an iconic program that has has been the face of American space exploration for the past three decades has been special for sure. Ok, now onto the photos…
One of my main goals for this ferry flight trip was to take photos of Endeavour from the mate-demate device as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft was pushed back from the structure. Not wanting to get the regular old angle from a couple hundred feet away that the media were sure to get, (the regular media are usually put far away behind heavy equipment such as cranes and support vehicles which partially block the view) I and the website editor worked on a request to get the access needed. The request would end up being approved after a long process after having been sent in over a month ahead of time. Everything would fall into place perfectly allowing me to get the following shots.
After the pushback I was able to knock another shot off my list, climbing aboard the SCA and getting a shot of Endeavour from the overhead cockpit hatch.
This is the view when climbing the stairs into the 747, pretty impressive!
After a great day of shooting it was time to head home and rest up for the sunrise departure the following day…. which would end up being delayed for bad weather in Texas and then delayed a couple more times for bad weather in Florida. The flight would finally depart early Wednesday, September 19th. I would photograph the departure from high atop Kennedy Space Center on the Vehicle Assembly Building roof, at 526ft tall, it would provide me with a vantage point almost as if I was flying right beside the aircraft.
Endeavour was now well on her way to Houston and I had to pack up my gear and get to the airport for a flight to Los Angeles where I would intercept the shuttle again the following day when it landed at Edwards Air Force Base. It would stay overnight at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on the base which allowed for some great photos at sunset.
Endeavour would depart Edwards at 8:17 PDT on Friday, September 21. The early departure would provide some great light on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft as it took off with a shuttle for the final time.
Endeavour would not head straight to LA, rather it would head north up to San Francisco for a series of flyover around the area. This time would allow us just enough time to travel from Edwards to LA so I could get the final shot on my list, Endeavour flying over the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory.
Members of the community gather in the streets to view the spectacle in the sky.
This concludes my trip to photograph Endeavours ferry flight. I plan to head back to LA in a couple weeks to view the final leg of Endeavours journey to the California Science Center, a trip down the streets of LA.
I recently created a Facebook page devoted to my photography where you can stay up to date on recent shoots. Be sure to “like” the page so that you can stay up to dat on what is going on!