Thursday, May 21, 2009 by Keith

NASA Director Invites Keith Berr to Photograph The Atlantis Final Launch

Atlantis Space Shuttle Launch

NASA Glenn Research Director, Ray Lugo, invited Keith Berr to photograph the last launch of the Atlantis Shuttle.

I photographed Director Lugo last year for a publication and he asked if I had ever been to a shuttle launch. I hadn't and it's one of those rare moments when you meet the right guy that can get you somewhere to actually witness history.

He offered to send me the invitation and he not only followed though but included the whole VIP treatment for us . The formal invitation delivered to my studio several weeks later with passes that would allow me to be closer than the press to the launch, sit with the crews families and see something that is so awe inspiring I can't relay it in words.

Linda and I arrived at the Kennedy Space Center to photograph the last mission of the Atlantis and were escorted by NASA engineers to witness the launch of the seven astronauts for their 11-day mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. I have read so much over the years on the Hubble and have been inspired by the photos of the universe taken from it.

During its 19 years in orbit, Hubble's discoveries have been so important that they've forced academics to revise astronomy text books, It took deep photographs of the universe and captured images of the birth and death of stars. It has also played a key role in discovering that the universe is driven by a mysterious force called dark energy that is expanding at an accelerating rate. Wild stuff!

Hubble isn't just a satellite it's about humanity's quest for knowledge.

I say thank you so much to let us witness the launch of this mission to NASA Glenn’s Director Ray Lugo.

Ray has served as the Deputy Program Manager of the Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center prior to coming to NASA Glen and now shares with the Center Director responsibility for planning, organizing, and directing the activities required to accomplish missions assigned to the center.

Enjoy the photos and if you ever get the invitation to see something like this, please take the opportunity. It is so cool!

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