Florida’s Space Coast
A Day In the Life
“Look at the Ball of Fire!”
Witnessing her first launch of a space shuttle from Cape Canaveral (2005), a woman shrieks, and tries to get the attention of her 5-year-old grandson, so he didn’t miss his chance to see it.
Ten minutes on Florida’s Space Coast, including (at 5:50) the 2005 launch of Discovery, as three generations of a young family looks on, and experiences their first launch experience.
Along for the ride that day, was my mother, who more than 40 years earlier had taken my brother, my sister, and me into our front yard to watch the launch of Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut to ride the flame into outer space (May 5, 1961).
(July 16, 1969) — Eight years later, at our house at 2806 (Alan) Shepard Drive, we watched Apollo 11 take off on its voyage to the moon.
(July 20, 1969) — Four days later, the same group and our father were up late, in the living room, and on our brand-new, Sears & Roebuck color TV, watching the grainy, black and white image of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon, and delivered what might be the most memorable line in all of time.
“That’s One Small Step for Man
One Giant Leap for Mankind.”
In the video here, after a short ride on the River Road, along the Indian River, and through Rockledge (my hometown), we meet a young family from Fort Lauderdale, spending the weekend in the turn-of-the-century (1900) Florida cottage.
My mother and I were invited in (local style) to watch television, waiting for the countdown to reach a couple of minutes, when we’d all go outside, take our positions, look across the Indian River (Intracoastal Waterway) toward the VAB (Vertical [vehicle] Assembly Building), where Discovery sat ready on pad 39B, awaiting ignition and launch.
Most striking to me, as often, is the (audio) reaction of those witnessing their first launch. “Look at the Ball of Fire” is only the beginning.