NASA Orion EFT-1
Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral, Florida
Fourth early morning in a row paid off with a successful 7:05am (UTC-5) launch of Orion!!
The three liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen fueled Common Booster Cores (CBC) used in the Delta IV Heavy supposedly leave less of a smoke trail than solid rocket motors, but we were still treated to an impressive sight as it crawled slowly into the sky atop massive tower of flame, then vanished into the clouds less than a minute later. If the Delta IV Heavy is a smaller rocket than the Space Shuttle, NASA makes up for it by letting you get significantly closer-- the closest public viewing area for Shuttle launches was a little over six miles away, twice as far as we were for this launch.
Aside from the clouds, weather was otherwise perfect, and was complete with a gorgeous sunrise two days in a row.
Brief stop at Waffle House for energy, then off to the KSC Visitor Complex to listen to astronaut Bruce McCandless II and other NASA experts narrate the rest of the Orion EFT-1 mission, including live feed of the splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Great job by the Orion team on a successful first flight!
Wandered the KSC Visitor Complex more afterwards with other NASA Social attendees, visited Atlantis as well as the rocket garden again, and enjoyed a throughly good day despite the impending zombie status after a fourth day of too little sleep...
Finally, unexpectedly caught Jenn and Jaclyn for dinner. Apparently everyone was making trips to Orlando this week! Wasn't able to catch Jason, but a delicious Peruvian dinner with Jenn and Jaclyn was almost as good! Considering we all live in the same place, catching dinner across the country was a pleasant surprise!
More extensive coverage and photos of the Orion EFT-1 mission at Ars Technica: Second time's the charm-NASA's Orion EFT-1 blasts off from the Cape.