Today's 2:28am shuttle launch was a rare night launch that was probably spectacular to view. I am sorry that I missed it. While we were in Florida in February our Valentine's Day was spent at the Kennedy Space Center (just call me an incorrigible romantic). We intended to watch a Shuttle launch that day but Endeavor was delayed until today because Atlantis, the previous shuttle launch, had been delayed until Feb 7th.
Nevertheless, our Valentine's day included the bus tour that went closer to the Launch Pads and past the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Inside they were assembling Endeavor for this mornings flight and I got some good pictures of the bottom of the Shuttle Stack as it was being assembled. They were expecting to move the Shuttle to the pads one evening that week. It turns out that they actually pack the Shuttle bay while it is on the launch pad by means of a huge movable building that can be sealed to the Shuttle so they can open the bay doors and out in payloads. Unfortunately there were no tours of that.
Here is Endeavor peeking through the VAB doors.
Here is Launch Pad 39A sans shuttle.
We did see pieces of the Japanese built Kibo lab that Endeavor took into space on this mission. The lab was being assembled in the Space Station assembly building where each piece of the Space Station is shipped before being prepared for flight.
For all of its quirks, imagine what the Space Shuttle represents in terms of mankind's technological development. What wonderful hubris as many nations combine their efforts to build a station in space. How can this effort not count as one of the pinnacles of humanities achievements? Pardon me, as I always speak expansively and supremely positively and even get a bit overcome when I talk about the space program. I am sure there are some of you out there that are the same way. Leave a comment to express your opinion.