Launching Dreams

For Naperville resident Jeffrey Ross, photography started out as a hobby, but has grown into a career. You can find Ross at events all across Naperville, but in a few days, he’ll be down in Florida photographing the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.

“I am only one of 12 photographers in the entire world that’s going to get to go on top of the big assembly vertical building where they assemble the shuttle,” said Ross. “That in itself is pretty thrilling.”

Ross has been interested in space shuttles since he was a kid, growing up in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

“I remember the first space shuttle launch,” said Ross. “I’d be on the playground at school and seeing them going up. This is a big deal. I knew I’d never get to actually work on the space shuttles, but to be that close to them because of my camera, it’s incredible.”

The April 29th lift off won’t be the first time Ross will photograph a space shuttle. He has already photographed the Atlantis, the Endeavour and the Discovery.

“I was up there for the last launch and when the shock wave hits you, it’s like being hit by a truck,” said Ross. “You just start shaking and vibrating. It’s really exciting being that close to a liftoff. I remember seeing them from the beach and far away. To be that close and feel it, it just goes right through you. To see it go off, it’s incredible.”

Ross is part of a team with 12 other photographers and videographers. The group doesn’t just take the pictures for their own personal collections; the San Diego Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian will use some of the team’s photos for their displays.

“I know while I’m doing something that it’s going to be a part of history,” said Ross. “Forty years from now I’m going to be able to show people the last shuttle launches because I did that. They’ll be reading about it in books and I was there. There’s not a lot of opportunities that I have when I say to myself ‘Ok this is a moment in history. This is a big deal. I’m the last person to do something like this.’”

Ross posts all of his pictures along with his experiences on his blog, and encourages anyone interested in space shuttles to follow along at jeffreyworks.com.

The April 29th launch of the Endeavour is the last lift off for the space shuttle.

Mark Kelly is leading the crew headed to the International Space Station. He is the husband of Arizona Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured in the January 8th Arizona shooting.

President Barak Obama and his family are planning to attend the lift off. This will be the first time a president has gone to watch a shuttle launch since 1998.

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