Airline passenger Stefanie Gordon used an iPhone to snap this photo of the space shuttle Endeavour streaking toward space on May 16. Gordon was flying from New York to Palm Beach, Fla., aboard a Delta jet.
Credit: Stefanie Gordon
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Spectators on the ground got a stunted view of space shuttle Endeavour's final launch Monday (May 16) when it vanished into a ceiling of clouds shortly after liftoff. However, some lucky passengers who happened to be in the air at the time saw the fantastic sight of the shuttle streaking its way to orbit.
Stefanie Gordon of Hoboken, N.J., was flying from La Guardia Airport in New York to Palm Beach International Airport in Florida to visit her parents. Gordon had been sleeping for most of her flight but woke up in time for Endeavour's 8:56 a.m. EDT (1256 GMT) liftoff when the pilot of her Delta airlines plane made an announcement that the spectacle would be visible. [See Gordon's spectacular launch photos through airplane window]
Through the plane's window, Gordon managed to capture pictures on her iPhone of the amazing sight of shuttle Endeavour climbing high into the clear sky above a low shelf of clouds. [More Photos of Endeavour's Final Launch]
"My plane flew right past the shuttle!" she posted on Twitter, along with the photos, under the name @Stefmara.
Now Gordon has gained international attention and picked up more than 1,000 new followers.
"All I was doing was coming to Florida for my mom's birthday!!!" she tweeted.
All in all, Gordon said she was glad she didn't completely sleep through the flight.
"It was amazing. Can't believe we got to witness history!" she wrote on Twitter. [Video: Endeavour's Lift-off into History]
Endeavour is chasing down the International Space Station, where it will spend about two weeks delivering a dark matter-hunting experiment and a load of spare parts to the orbiting laboratory.
Yesterday's launch was the last one for Endeavour, which will retire to the California Museum of Science after this mission. Its sister orbiters, Discovery and Atlantis, will also be retired after NASA's final space shuttle mission in July.
You can follow SPACE.com senior writer Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz. Visit SPACE.com for complete coverage of Endeavour's final mission STS-134 or follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.