The Final Countdown: A #NASATweetup Journal

Part 6: The Launch!

The shuttle Atlantis launched on July 8, 2011

By now, we all know that Atlantis launched successfully today, June 8, 2011 from Canaveral. There was some time there where it looked like it wouldn’t launch due to weather, but with the clock continuing to count down and the skies gradually clearing, it was decided to push forward and light that candle. Which they did, at  11:29 am. To the delight, awe and amazement of millions around the world.

And especially to this one guy, who watched from a spot on an aluminum bleacher seat at the NASA press site near the big countdown clock. A lucky position to be in for any space blogger!

Since I can’t adequately describe the unique feeling of a launch in words….the anticipation of the countdown, the concern over any slight delay, the held breath just before ignition, and especially the amazement of witnessing the plumes of steam and smoke and seeing the bright blaze of the rocket exhaust – not to mention the shuddering roar that eventually reaches your ears seconds later – I’ll just leave you with some photos. Which I took from my privileged vantage point.

It’s almost unbelievable that I witnessed it with my own eyes. (But….I did!)

I have to thank the generous and hardworking folks at NASA and at Twitter for making this event possible! Without them, there’d be no Tweetup. So thanks… it really was a dream come true for me and 149 other great people!

Also here’s a video by NASA TV of the final seconds of the countdown and the launch itself:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s incredible to watch this and realize that I was there!

Images © Jason Major


  1. Jeff Barani says:

    Great Jason !!
    And thanks for had made sharing this event.
    All days I go to your Blog and yet I’m a Frenchie – on the French Riviera !! – but your Blog on the Space is, for me, the Best Blog to Space, the solar System and the guys that make it possible !!
    Longs Days to your Blog ” Lights in the Dark” !! 😉
    And sorry… for my english mistakes…
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)…


    1. J. Major says:

      Thank you Jeff (merci!)


  2. Lauri says:

    Your post and especially these fantastic pictures have me covered in goosebumps and feeling elated and sad and a whole range of emotions….but mostly pride. What a magnificent era it has been. I don’t know if anyone can aptly express what a marvelous achievement the Shuttles are.

    I look forward to what comes next!


    1. J. Major says:

      Thanks Lauri. I think we all are waiting to see what comes next!


  3. Jeff Barani says:

    Me also I look forward to what comes next 😉 And I hope soon a new spacecraft to replace the Shuttle… Because to be dependent on Russian Soyouz isn’t too much…but always better to be blocked here on Earth !!
    Best Wishes. to you and your Blog.
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)


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