I finally saw a space shuttle launch today with my family. Scratch that one off my bucket list. It was my first and Discovery’s last. Bittersweet.
Fortunately, my in-laws live in Orlando, so Kimmie, Ella Jane, and I snuck out for a quick getaway. Attending the launch was in our plans, but we couldn’t have imagined a better experience. We left six hours before launch time (as we’d been advised), but by the time we got to Route 1, the whole town of Titusville (right across the water from the launch facility) was already packed.
If you have the impression that Americans have lost interest in the space program (as I did before today), let me tell you that it’s false. A NASA announcer mentioned that this was the largest launch crowd he had ever seen.
Despite that crowd, we found a shaded, out-of-pocket half-acre lot whose owners were charging $10 for parking. We took them up on the offer and camped out for the day. The weather was perfect and the baby was happy.
Nearby was a Walgreens, a children’s consignment shop (read: free playground), and an awesome view of the launch facility.
Let me tell you about the launch: very impressive, very loud, VERY BRIGHT, wicked awesome! LOTS of fire! It’s a real marvel of American technology, history, effort, and resolve. It was absolutely breathtaking (way cooler than you’ve seen on screen). Too bad it’s almost over. Way to go, government.
If you’ve never seen a shuttle launch and there’s any way you can make it to the final Endeavor or Atlantis launch, I highly recommend it. I may even share my little parking secret.