When I was young the space race was going on in full force. Like many kids I was fascinated by all things space. I really don’t remember the Gemini missions but do have memories of the Apollo missions. I remember watching the launches and coverage on TV. I always thought it would be really interesting to see a launch of a big Saturn V in person.
The Apollo missions came to conclusion in 1972 and I headed off to college shortly thereafter. I was still interested in the space program but other things in my life became more important and I never got to go see a mission be launched into space.
For the past few days we have been parked in Malabar Florida. Today we got up early and headed about an hour north to the Space View Park in Titusville. Space View Park is located less than 15 miles from the launch pad across the Indian River. The launch was scheduled for 4:50 pm and according to everything we read we needed to be at the park at least 6 hours before. We got there just before 10 am (7 hours before launch) and there were already a good number of people there set up waiting. I went down to the front of the park and some of the people there said there were there since 5 or 6 am.
We spent the day sitting by the Indian River reading books, and waiting. We ended spending the day next to a group of people that included a man that works for NASA in Houston in the Shuttle program. It was interesting learning some more about the Shuttle as we waited. As the day went on the crowd got bigger and bigger.
About 30 minutes before the launch people started to wonder out into a shallow part of the river to get a good view of the launch.
Then it was time. From where we were we could not see the actual lift off. However the shuttle quickly rose and we could watch, hear and feel it climb. The rumble was not as loud as I expected but then again we were about 15 miles from the actual launch site. As the said – “The final liftoff of Discovery, a tribute to the dedication, hard work and price of America’s space shuttle team.”
Once we got home (hours later after a ton of traffic) we learned that there were some holds and they got close to the end of the launch window – we were lucky today.