Liftoff of Atlantis

May 19, 2010


Photographer: Darrel Williams
Summary Author: Darrel Williams; Jim Foster

This view of liftoff of the Atlantis (STS 132) orbiter was taken approximately 3.8. mi (6.2 km) from launch pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Liftoff occurred in near perfect weather on May 14 at precisely 2:20 p.m. (local time). Safety and security mandates that all spectators be at least 3 mi (4.9 km) from the launch facility. The objectives of this launch are to deliver a cargo carrier and a Russian built research module to the International Space Station (ISS). Only two more launches of the Space Shuttles are scheduled.  When the Shuttles are retired at the end of this year, no “human” launches will take place at Cape Canaveral in the immediate future -- crews will likely travel to and from the ISS aboard Russian spacecraft.

As shown above, all eyes are glued to the bright plume of the exhaust shooting out of the thrusters propelling Atlantis into Earth orbit. Rocket launches are truly riveting events, especially for family members of the astronauts. The woman second from the right is the mother of Mission Specialist, Piers Sellers – she’s being hugged by a relative. Note that the launch is bright enough to create its own glitter path.

Photo details:  Captured with an iPhone, with no “zoom in” applied.

Photos by Brad Williams: prior to ignition, lifting off.