Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sunday's space shuttle flight could be the last night launch

This weekend could be our last chance to see the space shuttle blast off in darkness, as it did on Aug. 28.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times (2009)

This weekend could be our last chance to see the space shuttle blast off in darkness, as it did on Aug. 28.

This weekend could be the Tampa Bay area's last chance to see a spectacular sight: the space shuttle blasting off in the night.

The shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to lift off at 4:39 a.m. Sunday, well before sunrise. If it's clear, Tampa Bay residents will be able to look to the east and see the fiery launch against the dark sky.

"A night launch is absolutely spectacular," said Kennedy Space Center spokeswoman Candrea Thomas. And this spectacle, she said, is likely to be "an opportunity that most people won't get to have for a long time."

Only four space shuttle missions are planned after this one, and under the current schedule, all the others will launch during daylight. That could change, however, because launches are frequently scrubbed and rescheduled.

Some viewing tips for Sunday:

Look to the east, in the general direction of Cape Canaveral (due east if you're in New Port Richey, east-northeast if you're in St. Petersburg or Tampa.) Keep the radio or television on or check to see if the launch has been canceled.

If you are thinking about driving over to the Cape Canaveral area to see the launch, start this afternoon or early this evening. Consider getting a hotel room tonight if you can find one, in Titusville or Cocoa Beach.

You'll want to arrive in the area at least three hours before launch time. And expect to spend an extra three hours in traffic on the way back. In other words, you'll be pulling an all-nighter. So bring extra drivers and extra caffeine. And remember, cancellations are common.

If the launch is scrubbed Sunday morning, NASA will try again at 4:14 a.m. Monday.

NASA plans to end the space shuttle program early next year.

Sunday's space shuttle flight could be the last night launch 02/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 6, 2010 1:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. BREAKING: Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic


    UPDATE: At 5 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  2. Editorial: Pinellas should join lawsuit challenging new state law


    The Florida Legislature has been on a cynical, constitutionally dubious quest to render local school boards powerless. The most direct assault is a new state law that strips school boards of much of their authority when it comes to the creation and funding of charter schools. It's time for the Pinellas County School …

  3. Editorial: Fix funding unfairness in Florida foster care system


    Many of the children in Florida's foster care system already have been failed by their parents. The last thing these kids need is to be failed by bureaucracy, too, and yet that's exactly what appears to be happening because of a needlessly rigid funding formula set up by the Florida Legislature. Child welfare agencies …

    The Legislature may have had good intentions when it came up with the funding plan, but it’s obvious that there is some unfairness built into it. The funding may be complicated, but the goal is simple: Making sure every child in need gets the help he or she needs.
  4. After Charlottesville, Judy Genshaft asks USF to "stand together with open minds and open hearts"


    TAMPA — In a welcome letter celebrating the start of a new academic year, University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft took a moment to reflect on last weekend's violence in Charlottesville and asked students to unite with "open minds and open hearts."

    USF president Judy Genshaft posed with graduate Matt Jackson in 2015.
  5. Police: Man arrested in Largo had thousands of child pornography files


    LARGO — A 43-year-old man was arrested Wednesday after detectives found thousands of child pornography images and videos on his laptop.

    Tyrone Jeffrey Russell, 43, was arrested Wednesday on child pornography charges, according to Largo police. [Pinellas County Jail]