A taste of ubiquity; photographing the launch of GPS IIF-5.

We all wish we could be in two places at once occasionally. While in Florida last week shooting Daytona Speedweeks for NASCAR Illustrated, I would find myself in a predicament. The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket, the 25th flight, would occur during the same time as the Budweiser Duels at Daytona International Speedway. It would be a challenge, but I wanted to try my best to shoot both.

Knowing my schedule ahead of time allowed me to plan accordingly, luckily practice sessions at Daytona on the day of launch would not pick up until noon, this would allow me to be at remote camera setup early Wednesday morning.  I prepared four remote cameras for this particular launch, to be set up in three locations around the launch complex.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any behind the scenes photos of setup this launch since I was in a rush getting everything set up, however I was able to photograph the rollback of the mobile service tower (MST) that would reveal the massive, 205ft tall rocket.

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Following remote setup, I headed back to the speedway to begin a long day at the track photographing several Nationwide series and truck practice sessions. The Budweiser Duel qualifying races for the Daytona 500 would run the same evening. The launch was originally scheduled for 8:40 pm. but solar radiation would delay the launch by 19 minutes. As cars were on track to begin the second duel race I watched the Delta 4 rise above turn 3 as I prepared to photograph the race. While I may have been 50 miles away from the launch, my cameras were just feet away capturing all the action for me!

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Can a camera be cursed? I have one camera body, a Canon 30D, my first digital SLR, that I have been trying diligently to get to work out at the pad. I have set it up at seven launches in the last three years, it has worked twice, three were complete failures and two the photos were unusable due to dew. Meanwhile my other cameras have had a nearly 100% success rate in that time. I am not sure why I continue to set it up, but it has kind of become a personal challenge.Image

A big thanks to Justin Ray and Stephen Clark who were kind enough to stay following the launch to retrieve my cameras!

And that concludes my third launch of the year at the cape.

For a complete gallery of photos and to purchase prints click HERE.

Be sure to “like” my Facebook page devoted to my photography where you can stay up to date on recent shoots.

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