Night Launch

Adventures of a first-time shuttle photographer.

(Ed Darack)

Turning Basin

(Ed Darack)

I received media approval from NASA just a week before the planned launch. I still needed to drive myself—and a pile of camera gear, including a Canon 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 lens—from Nevada to Florida. I finished an Air & Space story about my embed with a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey unit in Afghanistan, and within two hours was on the road. I arrived in Titusville, Florida, some 2,700 miles and three days later.

The next day, Friday, February 5, I entered Kennedy Space Center. In this shot, a pelican stands on the pilings at the barge “turning basin” near the Vehicle Assembly Building. In the distance is the launch assembly at Pad 39A.

About Ed Darack
Ed Darack

Air & Space/Smithsonian contributing editor Ed Darack’s forthcoming book, Highest Valor (Smithsonian Books, 2017), covers the story of the people and circumstances of Extortion 17 and its downing in Afghanistan in August 2011. The shootdown was the single deadliest incident in the war in Afghanistan. The book grew out of his article in the Feb./Mar. 2015 issue. See his website and Facebook page for more information.

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