July 8th marks the second anniversary of Atlantis’ final liftoff from Earth. Just a few days ago, Atlantis’ new home was opened to the public as she rests at a precise 43.21 degree angle, proudly displaying both her scored heat shielding and open cargo bay in celebration the Shuttle’s legacy. Oh yeah, and that’s the Canadarm extending from the bay if you hadn’t noticed it. (Below)
Two years ago, we were tightly huddled within a forest of tripod legs anxiously waiting to see if Atlantis would fly. Literally one million people stood beneath rain clouds in hopes of a patch of clear skies that would be needed to avoid a scrubbed mission. We only had one shot to capture the launch on film. If the mission were scrubbed, we didn’t have the funding at the time to make a return journey. Despite the weather and the risk, the million gathered on the shores; some having traveled much farther than us to witness this (potentially) historic moment. As you might know by now, the clouds did part, and just in time. At T – 30 minutes, those gathered around radios heard “Atlantis…you are go for launch” crackle through the radio. The roar of the crowd in celebration was second only to the exuberance of the launch itself.