Despite living in South Florida for most of my life, I never managed to drive up to Cape Canaveral for a shuttle launch. When I saw that SpaceX and NASA were launching astronauts into space from Florida again, I thought it might be a good time to finally see a launch. Since I live in Orlando, the Cape is right around forty minutes away by car, so I took a half-day from work on Wednesday to go see the launch with some friends.
The first thing I was not expecting was just how bad the traffic would be for the crowds going into Titusville. It took more than 90 minutes to make that forty-minute drive, and when we got out of the car to move to a place where we could see the launch, they halted the countdown because of weather.
Such is life in Florida.
The first backup launch window was Saturday, so we tried again. This time we set out with a wider time window before the launch. We arrived in downtown Titusville and found parking with about three hours until the launch, so we grabbed a quick fast food lunch, and took a quick walk through Space View Park, which has some really neat stuff to read and see.
A short while later, we met up with another group of friends at Playalinda Brewing Company for a tasty drink before we went to sit and wait for the launch.
There were already people setting up with canopies and blankets and folding chairs, none of which it occurred to us to bring. It alternated between cloudy, raining, and sunny, and about fifteen minutes before the launch we moved to a closer vantage point, even though it was in a very thick crowd.
I took some video of the launch, but trust me when I tell you that the more official video is significantly better. Seriously, check out the first few minutes of the C-SPAN video:
From where we stood, roughly twelve miles due west of launch pad 39A, Crew Dragon was a tiny dot atop a column of fire. After about a minute, the sound reached us- the most incredible rumble of rocketry.
Being present for living history- the first launch of astronauts from American soil since the Shuttle program halted in 2011- was amazing, but seeing the crowd response and hearing that thunderous rocket first-hand, I’m tremendously glad I went to see Bob and Doug heading off to the International Space Station.
I don’t even mind getting sunburned while also simultaneously being rained on. Stupid Florida.
Here’s what it looked like from my perspective:
Did you watch the SpaceX/Nasa Demo-2 launch? What did you think?
2 thoughts on “This weekend, in Titusville.”
Oh, you are so fortunate to have experienced a launch from close range. Back in the 80’s, my mom and I were able to get tickets to be right there at NASA across the lake from Pad 39. I guess we were about a mile away. I forget which launch it would have been. There were speakers everywhere, and we could hear the countdown, it was so exciting. Sadly, our launch was scrubbed with about 10 minutes to go, Then it took us almost five hours to get back to US-1 to head back to South Florida, That’s the closest I’ve ever come to actually being there for a launch. We can see them, sometimes, especially at night, right from the front yard. It’s thrilling, but just not the same.
Saturday’s docking was so amazing, There they are, traveling 18,000 mph, a bazillion miles from Earth, and we’re watching them change out of their space suits into civvies to climb into the Space Station!! Isn’t that incredible? Kind of dismaying to see the folks at the Command Centers all wearing masks. Part of the fun of a successful launch is the constant grinning from ear to ear by all those dedicated people involved in every aspect of the spectacle.
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Definitely glad I got to see Bob and Doug “Take Off” but someday I’ll attend a live launch.
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