Launch Day

July 26, 2005

A busy Rick Leventhal updates FOX Fans from his Blackberry:

3:20 am Wake-up alarm (snooze 5 min)

3:40 am Check e-mail on BlackBerry. NASA update says 3a weather forecast 80% go for launch.

3:45 am Meet crew in hotel parking lot.

3:55 am Dunkin' Donuts. We get there just in time, as several carloads of media arrive moments later, forming long line behind us.

4:10 am We pass Banana River Drive along the Causeway, a prime viewing spot for shuttle launches, already filling up with cars and motorhomes.

4:20 am Arrive at local ballfield, a KSC media checkpoint, for vehicle and bag search.

4:35 am Search complete. I offer Munchkin to officer, who says with a smile, "Don't do that to me!"

4:45 am Pass through second checkpoint on Rt. 3.

4:49 am Third checkpoint, also on Rt. 3. Guards inspect our credentials and wave us through.

4:58 am Arrive KSC, pass through final checkpoint for media parking. There are already hundreds of techs, photographers, and reporters on site. Roughly four miles away, Discovery sits on the well-lit launch pad 39-B, poised for lift-off.

6:09 am My first scheduled live shot...

10:39 am LIFTOFF! An awesome sight and experience. We feel the rumble and roar. Even the typically jaded press corps cheers, gasps, and applauds as Discovery rockets off the pad and into the blue sky and clouds beyond, leaving a huge trail of smoke in its wake.

E-mail Rick!