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Weston Detective Reports on the Final Liftoff

WESTON, Conn. – From his vantage point six miles away Detective Carl Filsinger could feel the space shuttle lifting off on its final launch July 8. He had set his alarm for 2 a.m. to arrive at Kennedy Space Center that day for the historic occasion.

"As the sun came through the clouds, the fog lifted. First, an unbelievable cloud of smoke comes out of it – then they start the engine. It pulls up through the exhaust and we saw a huge flame," said Filsinger.

The Weston police officer has been following shuttle launches since 1981, when Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center on STS-1 mission. He received his tickets this year in a lottery drawing, and upgraded them for a closer view.

"We could hear and see so good. We heard a roar and popping sound of the engines as it climbed. It took 15 to 20 seconds before we heard it," said Filsinger. "From six miles away, I could feel the heat. Maybe it was because of the emotions and the sun coming out--but I could feel it."

STS-135 is a 12-day mission to the International Space Station to take supplies and spare parts to sustain operations once the shuttle is retired, according to NASA . The STS-135 is expected to land back at Kennedy Space Center at about 7 a.m. July 20.

Filsinger said the viewing areas for the launch were "mobbed." He arrived at the causeway with two hours to wait for the launch, and there were already people there in lawn chairs.

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