This blog wasn't around when I went to Daytona Beach, FL, in May and saw the Space Shuttle Atlantis launch, so I am posting about it now. It was an amazing experience and just wanted to share it with people.
First of all, I didn't even know there was going to be a shuttle launch at that time. I had heard that there was only going to be a few more, so what were the odds that my vacation would time itself just right. But sure enough, it did. We arrived on Wednesday the 12th, and found out on Thursday that there would be a shuttle launch on Friday, the 14th. I had never seen a shuttle launch live and had always wanted to, so I jumped at the chance to see it up close. Even though I was told I would be able to see it pretty clearly from our resort, I still wanted to try get as close as I could (without getting stuck in crazy tourist traffic), so I made up my mind to try to get to New Smyrna Beach, out by the water, and watch it from there...20 miles closer. Well, I misjudged the traffic and we almost didn't make it (we being my parents and myself...my sister Jackie stayed back at the resort hotel to watch it from there). We had about 5 minutes to spare when we started crossing the southern-most bridge into New Smyrna Beach, and I figured that it would take us too long to get over the other side, find a place to park, and then get to a good vantage point. So we did what tons of other people were doing...we pulled over on the bridge at the first available spot, and then we walked up it until we got to a clump of people would couldn't get passed, and watched it from there.
I didn't think we would see much more than a pin-prick of light with thin trail after it. So I was shocked when my mom shouted "Oh look! There it is!" and I saw this bright flame with a white dash above it, and a gorgeous plume forming behind it. It was so much bigger and closer than I thought it would be, and we were still about 40 miles north. Holy crap...I can't imagine how much more magnificent it would be to actually be in Titusville, only a few miles away...to feel the ground shaking afterwards, and hear the roar. As it was, I was so emotionally touched that I actually cried over it...seriously, you can hear me sniffing and such on the video I took. The sight lasted for a good two minutes before it disappeared into the atmosphere and there was only the plume left to mark the passing of the shuttle. Totally amazing. Totally.
I am going to attempt to include two pictures here. One is more of an accurate size of what we saw for the shuttle launch. And one is a close-up of one of the pictures, where you can actually see the external tank and the shuttle hanging upside down under it.