Cape Canaveral, Monday May 16, spectators and professional photographers on the ground got a brief view of the space shuttle before Endeavour vanished into a ceiling of clouds shortly after liftoff. However, at that moment, the pilot of an airliner, that just happened to be passing by, alerted his passengers to the sight of the shuttle streaking its way into orbit.
One of them, airline passenger Stefanie Gordon pulled out an iPhone 3GS to snap 3 photos and a 12-second video of the space shuttle Endeavour streaking toward space. “I was asleep and happened to wake up,” she said. “The pilot said, ‘If you all look out to the east you can see the space shuttle.’” Her first thought: “Great – the one time I don’t have my camera with me.”
Hundreds of photo pros shot thousands of photos of the 2nd to last shuttle launch but it was a low res image taken on an iPhone by an unemployed event planner from Hoboken that became the most viewed, historic and viral.
Others also took photos of the launch but she was the only one that posted to twitter
and that caused a media firestorm. Stephanie, using her Twitter account @Stefmara, tweeted, “My plane flew right past the shuttle!”.
She also didn’t anticipate the response she got. “I’ve been retweeted by NASA, The Weather Channel.” Many sites used the photo without giving her credit.
Anne Farrar, a photo editor at The Washington Post
, who saw the images after they were posted by a friend on Facebook said she’d never seen anything quite like this view of a shuttle launch before.
The Associated Press contacted Gordon through Facebook and purchased the images.