We stood open-mouthed, tears in the corners of our eyes, some openly weeping in disbelief. Just ten minutes before we had been watching one of the most amazing sights to be witnessed by man in the twentieth century. For no human could have witnessed this spectacle before the later half of the century. We had managed to find a little known viewpoint from which we could watch the launch of the space shuttle for departure to the International Space Station, a marvel of scientific engineering. All had seemed fine as we watched in what appeared to be slow motion as the giant rocket slowly lifted but seemed to rapidly accelerate and the rocket stretched to the heavens but our elation and cheers had turned to stunned amazement as we saw a trickle of flame creep up the side of the craft causing it to perform a flaming somersault, startlingly bright against the pale blue, at the beginning, cloudless sky. An explosion ensued resulting in a highly visible shower of crimson heated metal fanning out into a parasol of vapour trails like upstretched arms bowing in protection of a defenseless scalp. Within a few minutes even these had dispersed leaving a few innocent, tell-tale wisps in the sky.
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