This is an eyewitness report from the NowPublic member ChrisMichaelStudio who was on the scene.
Discovery heading home
It was an incredible experience out on the runway waiting for the ferry flight. In almost complete darkness the shuttle atop the 747 thundered past like a freight train. Then complete silence and slowly a wave of heat from the exhaust flowed over us. Many thanks to the NASA public affairs for the opportunity.
The space shuttle Discovery and its modified 747 carrier aircraft departed Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California early Sunday morning on the first leg of their ferry flight back to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
After a lengthy takeoff roll, the modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying Discovery lifted off Edwards’ runway 22L at about 6:20 a.m. Sunday, heading to Rick Husband International Airport in Amarillo, Texas, the first intermediate refueling stop. The ferry flight is then expected to continue on to a second intermediate refueling stop before reaching Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La., where they expect to spend the night. The final leg of the flight, from Barksdale to Kennedy, is planned for Monday morning.
A NASA C-9 aircraft is flying about 100 miles ahead of the 747 – shuttle combo to scout weather conditions that might require the ferry flight to deviate from its intended route or destination.
Discovery had landed at Edwards Sept. 11 after the almost 14-day, 5.7-million-mile STS-128 mission to the International Space Station.