Blast Off!!

Do you have a bucket list? My husband does. His has always included seeing a shuttle launch.

In 2002, I went online and bought us two tickets to see the Discovery Shuttle go up.  I made reservations at The Great Outdoors RV Resort in Titusville, FL (the closest city to Kennedy Space Center.) Do you remember what happened in February 2003? The Columbia Shuttle blew up on re-entry. All shuttle launches went on hold, meaning we held tickets to a launch that was not going up. Oh, by-the-way, all shuttle tickets are nonrefundable. We were advised by NASA to hold on to our tickets and they would be good whenever Discovery went up. The tickets were not for “the next shuttle launch” but for the next “Discovery Shuttle Launch.” Luckily, we could cancel our RV reservation. If you remember, all the shuttle launches were on hold for the next two years. So for two years, we sat on shuttle ticket reservations.

When NASA finally gave the go-ahead in 2004 for the launch, we couldn’t adjust our schedule to be there (it was in June and we were schedule to be at Niagara Falls -which we didn’t make, but that a whole ‘nother story.) Because of the long delay, NASA actually did refund our money. By this time, husband was really getting antsy to see a launch.

In 2007, we were in Titusville, FL for a daytime launch. We arrived too early at Kennedy Space Park – a public park at the intersection of Hwy 1 and Hwy 50, right on the Indian River. My hubs was determined to get a good spot! I believe we were there waiting for 8 hours! Luckily for me, Sandra Brown’s new book, Play Dirty, had just come out so I had a great book to read that whole time.  Plus, the park had a really nice bathroom!  (Always an important element when you have to wait somewhere for 8 hours, don’t you think?) I probably have pictures of that launch somewhere but honestly, they were less than spectacular. Mostly a white vapor through a blue sky. So now we could mark off “watch shuttle launch” from our “to-do” list.

When we got to Titusville this year (we’re snowbirding from all the nasty weather bad home), we discovered that NASA had a nighttime shuttle launch schedule for February 7. Ever seen the face of a little boy on Christmas morning when Santa got all the presents right? Well then you know the expression on my hubby’s face. We had to wait two months for the launch (luckily he didn’t make me wait at Kennedy Space Park the entire two months.) We did show up Saturday night at midnight for a 4:39 a.m. launch. It was cold, windy and very very dark. At about 4 a.m., we made our way to a pier over the Indian River – direct line sight for the launch. Of course we weren’t the only ones with this idea. The park was packed. People on the pier were keeping warm in sleeping bags waiting for the launch. I did have gloves and a blanket, but on the water, it was chilly. I had the countdown on my phone. At 10 minutes before launch, it was canceled due to low hanging clouds. You have never seen such sad faces. Hundreds and hundreds of cars trying to get out of a tiny park. Hwy 1 packed and at a standstill. I had one disappointed husband to go with hundreds of people who had come down JUST for this night launch.

However, NASA rescheduled the launch for 4:14 a.m. Monday morning. We showed up this time about 12:30 a.m., as we assumed fewer people. We were right. Many of the previous night’s crowd had had to go home – work, school, other commitments. So there was about 1/2 as many people at the park. Still packed however. At 3:45 a.m., we made our way back to the pier. Here I am huddled under my blanket for warmth. 

This time, at 4:14 a.m. this is what we saw….

Pretty impressive, isn’t it? It may have been one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen. At this time, this is the last scheduled nighttime shuttle launch EVER.  As you probably know, the shuttle program has been canceled. I believe there are 3 or 4 more launches left and unless something changes, all are daytime launches. But if you can make it down to Titusville, a launch is really something to see. I actually made a video of the launch and if I can figure out how to get it up, I’ll post it for you to see in real time.

Anyone else ever seen a shuttle launch?

What’s something on your bucket list that you’ve already done?

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6 Responses

  1. Wow! That was incredible. Thanks for sharing that. Im glad y’all finally got to see it. Talk about perserverance, you’ve got that in buckets.

    I’ve never seen the shuttle launch. When the last one exploded (or rather fell apart) on reentry, they found pieces all over our area. North LA/East Texas is where most of it fell. So sad. I knew they were reevaluating the programs at NASA. Didn’t realize there’d be no more shuttles.

  2. I am glad ya’ll got to see the launch. the pictures are awesome!! I have only seen them on TV and the one that blew up in the 80’s still sticks with me because we were watching it at school.

    One of the things on my bucket list was to get a tattoo. I finally got my 1st one at 40 (almost 2 years ago) and got my 2nd one last year.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures with us.

  3. I would love to see it live, but have only seen it on TV. My bucket list would include going on a safari.

  4. Very cool, Cyndi! I’ve never seen one at night. My dad took us during the day one time. It was pretty far off, but you could see the rocket. I remember being able to clearly see the booster things break off as it went into space.

    I did a lot of cool things when I was younger. I *hate* it because I didn’t realize the significance of stuff like that. And now, I barely remember the memory.

    Bucket list…mmm downhill skiing, wouldn’t mind trying out snowboarding. I’ve done the cross-country thing and there’s a workout for anyone looking to do something with all this snow!

  5. thanks everyone. Sorry I’ve been MIA all day. Believe it or not, I slept to noon! then went running around with hubby.

    Downhill skiing – Been there. Check
    Snowboarding – Nope
    Safari – That would be cool. Never done that (except at Disney Animal Kingdom…not the same, huh?)
    Tattoo – I go back and forth on getting one. So far, the urge has passed. You never know when it might hit again! 🙂

  6. That’s awesome, Cyndi! I’ve never seen anything like that.

    On my list…well, I have found this one thing to be SO much fun. It was so much fun that I have done it 8 times in my life! Bungee jumping! It is so thrilling!

    I would LOVE to go skydiving. That’s my next big thing to do. 😉

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