Delta III launch observed

Andre Beckus (
Wed, 26 Aug 1998 20:43:32 -0700 (PDT)

   I have just gotten back from observing the Delta III launch.  Since
I have just moved to Orlando, I decided to go to Jetty Park to observe
the launch from up close.  From Jetty Park, I had a clear view of the
Delta III as it sat on the launch pad.  After several delays, the
Delta III finally launched at 21:17 EDT.  A great cloud of smoke
enveloped it on the launch pad, and after a couple of seconds it
started to rise, lighting up the entire area.  I heard people there
say that it started out slower than the Delta II.  It continued to
rise, then suddenly it exploded into a fiery cloud of smoke.  My first
impression was that it had exploded.  However, once the smoke and
debris cleared a little, there were five small specks of light falling
(looking sort of like SRB's).  Meanwhile an object was still heading
East with a long orange plume behind it.  Some of the people thought
that maybe it was just an extremely violent SRB jettison, but soon it
was confirmed that it had exploded.  A little while later (I lost my
sense of time after lift off), there was a large fiery mushroom cloud
rising above the water in the distance for several seconds.  I am
assuming that this was the object that had the fire plume behind it,
since I had lost track of it several moments earlier.  It must have
hit the water and exploded, but I am not sure since I couldn't get a
clear view of the horizon.  The people in front of me made it hard to

Well, I hope this isn't too incoherent.  This is my first time seeing
a launch from that close, and I am a little dazzled and a little
tired.  Perhaps there is someone else around who could give a better

- Andre Beckus

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