I just came in from watching the space shuttle Endeavour lift off. It was a glorious moment and it's still the best attraction Florida has to offer. It was picture perfect, too. I stood in my back yard and followed the bright flame as it rapidly disappeared into the light blue sky. The puffy contrail momentarily stood still giving pause to reflect upon the timeless grace, power and magnitude of this magnificent launch. Then, it wafted away. I went back inside and witnessed what most of the nation was seeing on their television screens. Times like these become an inspiration for America, a moment to forget our woes. This is when we all unite and say Godspeed.
"Class is in session!" the NASA announcer said as the shuttle separated from the main engine and gracefully entered into orbit. Let this be a lesson to us all. As these brave souls journey onward and upward to a place where hatred carries no weight, where there are no borders and enemies do not exist, we must learn to forge ahead and make our world as safe as that oasis in the sky.
My brother, Sam, shuttles VIPs to launches. He drives for a large transportation company and took the two photos below. The first one (taken with his cell phone) was Endeavour on the pad the day before the launch. The second picture (taken with his digital camera) speaks for itself. He said it was very hazy as it lifted off the pad. What I saw from Orlando was very clear once it appeared over the tree tops.
The bottom picture looks better if you click to enlarge it.
Photos courtesy of Sam Knechel, Jr.