Last summer I promised myself to photograph the final space shuttle launch. Not only was it to be a historic event, and the last of its kind, but I can probably generalize here and say that every kid born under the influence of gravity will do whatever it takes to watch stuff shoot into the sky – the bigger, louder, and higher the better.
And a shuttle launch is just that – big, loud, and high. Even from 6.5 miles away (the closest public viewing location) it is an awe-inspiring demonstration of power. From that distance, the sound didn’t reach us until just before the rocket disappeared into the cloud, but as the roar of the engines came flooding over us the magnitude of what I was witnessing began to sink in – after 30 years of service, the Shuttle Transport System was now to become a relic of the past.
Early on I made the decision to shoot the launch on 4×5 film, knowing full well this thing would happen fast. As it turned out I had plenty of time (hah!) to get 10 hurried shots (8 sheets and two polaroids) before the shuttle disappeared through the clouds in something like 30 seconds: