Not only are the Blue Angels going to fly over and around the Yorktown at Patriots Point this month…on Monday morning we had an amazing sight viewable from the flight deck of Yorktown.
At 6:05 AM the International Space Station (ISS) appeared low on the horizon at 180 degrees (South) and rose in the sky as it moved towards the northeastern sky, the ISS rose to 28 degrees above the horizon and was visible at magnitude -1.3 for five minutes.
At 6:21 AM a red glow emerged on the southern horizon at 180 degrees again and then two solid red shafts of light were visible as the space shuttle Discovery (STS-131) left Pad 39A over 250 miles south of Mount Pleasant.
The solid rocket boosters were visible for over 2 minutes…
and then as they dropped away Discovery had rolled to pursue the ISS and paralleled the Carolina coast. The shuttle with its three main engines burning was heading also towards the rising sun (not quite up yet) but the exhaust coming off the three engines transformed Discovery into an early morning comet never seen before in my memory.
In the wake of Discover were several noctilucent clouds adding to the amazing sights of the launch.
It is the most amazing launch I have ever witnessed from the coast of South Carolina.
Appropriately for the fly-by of USS Yorktown at Patriots Point…the mission commander for STS-131 is Captain Alan Poindexter, United States Navy, a carrier aviator and F-14 fighter pilot with 450 arrested landings.
After this amazing fly-by…I can hardly wait for the arrival of the Blue Angels for the 17/18 April airshow!