Back to the Future — On that day, September 29, 1988, the launch of the space shuttle Discovery represented America’s return to space, NASA’s first manned mission since losing Challenger two years before.
“Just Say Go” signs and green ribbons were displayed proudly, all around The Coast, expressing the communities high hopes for the (space) program’s revival.
Cocoa and Rockledge sit comfortably on the Indian River, across from Merritt Island and Mosquito Lagoon.
Turning off US1, onto Coquina Road, and then five miles north on the palm and oak-lined River Road, a dilapidated, corrugated metal building (old Hub’s Inn) marked my favorite spot to watch rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. Looking across the Indian River, toward Merritt Island, the monstrous VAB (Vertical/Vehicle Assembly Building), with its NASA logo and American flag visible from ten miles, stands large on the horizon, a line of palmetto scrub on the long, sandy cape, the geography that defines Florida’s East Coast.
The point on Earth from where astronauts left for the moon.
Launch Complex #39 — Where America’s most accomplished pilots, engineers, scientists, doctors, and military officers (Astronauts) spent the last moments on Earth, before their being launched into space.
SIGNING OFF— After every launch, the departing rocket leaves behind its own, distinct after cloud. A signature in the sky, that lingers in the sky, and after the vehicle disappears over the horizon dissipates slowly in a gentle, tropical breeze. This infinity-shaped cloud was written by the space shuttle Discovery (STS-133), after it’s last launch, February 24, 2011, on its way to re-supply the International Space Station. Within a year, only two shuttles followed Discovery into space, and NASA’s 40-year shuttle mission was over.
Then the mission commander of STS-134, what might have been the last of NASA’s 40-year space shuttle program, Mark Kelly took Bono up on his invitation to speak to U2 audiences from the International Space Station.
It was thought that STS-134 could have been the last, with most Republicans in Congress opposing the funding required to launch STS-135, but as soon as February, NASA announced definitely that STS-135 would fly, “regardless” of Congress’ denial of funding.
July 8, 2011 — Taking advantage of the time and preparations necessary for STS-335, the “On Need” launch, the mission that would have been necessary if theSTS-134 crew became stranded in orbit. That made Atlantis (STS-135) the last. Two weeks after launch, upon its return and landing at the Kennedy Space Center, the 135th mission, and the entirety of NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Program, was over.
What a Difference a Decade Makes
International Space Station
Galactic Waste Management
A Day In The Life— Ten minutes on Florida’s Space Coast, including a young family, seeing its first launch (the space shuttle Discovery), its fiery ignition and rapid ascent, streaking across the mostly clear-blue, Florida sky, leaving The Cape on its way to the International Space Station, orbiting 300 miles above, in OUTER SPACE.
A reminder of my mother (who was there that day), fifty years earlier, taking my sister, my brother, and me into our front yard in Cocoa, to watch Alan Shepard fly, and listen to Walter Cronkite describe the moment.
On this launch day (2005), you’ll hear Grandma Rose shriek excitedly, before loudly calling out to her young grandson,
“From the Beginning” FOSSIL FUEL Houses Replace citrus, after a freeze. St John’s Crossing. Crossing I95, Old School east to Titusville/ US1 & HWY50) VAB HWY50 — WEEKI WACHEE/VAB SPRING HILL, Sinclair Dinosaur, inland Florida swimming hole, as compared to the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables.
Turpentine, Pines, Plywood and stinky pulp
Patrick Air Force Base, Picnic Tables, 2nd Light, Touch and Gos, Pineda Causeway shortcut, U2 takeoff, F-16s across the Turnpike, Hawk chasing Eagle, Followed (Targeted) by A-10s. After Pink Floyd, torrential rain at the Tangerine Bowl.
A mile north of the east end of SR50 on Riverside Drive. Video (pictures) documenting Spencer Tunick taking the “Florida” picture for his Naked States Tour, what became an exhibit of 50 at a Soho gallery in New York City.
SR 50 is signed east–west. Within various counties throughout the state, the highway is signed with various names such as Cortez Boulevard in Hernando County and Colonial Drive in Orange County. The former section includes the concurrency with US 98 between Brooksville and near Ridge Manor. US 98-SR 50 is the only interchange with Interstate 75 in Hernando County.
Several portions of SR 50 east of SR 436 follow the original Cheney Highway, which was named for John Moses Cheney and was the first road to the coast from Orlando. Full travel from Orlando to Titusville on the Old Cheney Highway, however, is not possible due to the demolition of a bridge over the Econlockhatchee River. At the eastern terminus of SR 50, NASA‘s Vehicle Assembly Building is visible.
State Road 408, also known as the East-West Expressway or Toll Road 408, from its western starting point near Ocoee to its eastern terminus near the University of Central Florida near Bithlo, runs almost directly parallel to SR 50, with most exits on the 408 being within a mile to 2 miles away from SR 50. The East-West Expressway was originally designed to, and still does, relieve traffic congestion on SR 50 during rush hour.
A western extension of SR 40 continues from US 41 in Dunnellon as HWY 40 to the Gulf of Mexico through Marion and Levy Counties north of the Withlacoochee River. County Road 40 is named Follow That Dream Parkway west of US 19/98 after the 1962 Elvis Presley movie that was filmed in Inglis, Yankeetown and the surrounding area. East of US 19-98, the road is known as Port Avenue in Levy County, and Cedar Street, then Pennsylvania Avenue in Dunnellon. Between Dunnellon and Rainbow Lakes Estates, SR 40 serves as a not-so-hidden route along US 41.
Rainbow Springs “Curse Of The Witches Well” Cottage on the Rainbow River Dunellon
— Interior Florida. Clear, Cool, spring-fed river. A retreat from the family estate in Belleair. On the west coast, north of Tampa, where Henry Plant terminated his Railroad, near Clearwater, north of St. Petersburg. THE BELLEVIEW-BILTMORE HOTEL Henry Plant was Henry Flagler’s rival, fellow Railroad baron, and Florida Pioneer, who turned his tracks west, toward Tampa, while Flagler decided to continue south, down Florida’s East Coast, with a dreamer’s eye on Key West, the land developer’s, industrial age, FLORIDA MOON.
De Leon Springs
Blue Spring (Actually Green) St. Johns River Orange, Florida
(HWY40)Go West — Ormond Beach, Ocala National Forest, Silver Springs, Crystal River, Yankeetown, Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve, Deland (HWY44) Cassadaga — GEO MAGAZINE (German) PICTURES Daytona Beach (The World’s Most Famous) Daytona 500 NASCAR (Beach-A1A/Super Speedway Port Orange New Smyrna Beach (HWY44) Atlantic Ocean Cassadaga Deland Orange, Florida BLUE SPRING ST. JOHNS RIVER (HWY50) — THE ROAD THROUGH SPACE & TIME
What a Difference a Decade Makes
International Space Station Galactic Waste Management Richard Branson Virgin Atlantic Elon Musk SpaceX Private Property? Space Force?
“Change Is Gonna Come” The Inaugural Falcon — A look into the Future of space travel, and a reminder of how far Donald Trump’s poison spread. Patrick Space Force Base?
“I’ll break your fucking camera, if you take a picture of me.”
Unlike an invitation to a tall glass of sweet tea and watching the countdown on the River Road resident’s black and white television, with its aluminum foil, rabbit-ear antenna.
Far from the fondest of memories, watching all the “manned launches,” starting with Alan Shepard’s most exhilarating, 15-minute, up and down ride anyone had ever seen. From our front yard on the Cocoa mainland, my mother, my sister, my brother, and I watched the yellow flame rise into the clear blue Florida sky, and after it disappeared, we went inside to begin what would be a life-long, Space Coast ritual. Closing the screen door behind you, and sitting down in the living room, listening to one of the network newsmen, writing (telling) America’s history as they saw it. We, like most, listened to Walter Cronkite, the voice of CBS news, theTruth in America. Walter Cronkite — an honest man who told us what he saw.
Same Space, Different Time — For the dozen Apollo Astronauts who walked on the Moon, the last spot on earth they touched before their galactic stroll, was Cape Canaveral, Florida.
On this day, nearly 40 years later, the Space Shuttle Discovery sat quietly on the same spot, it’s crew waiting anxiously to ride the fountain of fire, away from The Cape, and toward their outer space destination, the International Space Station, orbiting 300 miles overhead.
The deteriorating, corrugated-metal building is Hub’s Inn, a Space Coast seafood restaurant and lounge, popular in the 1920s. Indian River lore having it that Hub’s was a favorite of Al Capone, to where he and his Miami mob associates sailed their motor yachts, up the Intracoastal Waterway, and bought exclusive time at Hub’s Inn, enough time to satisfy their near-insatiable desire for Wine, Women, and Song.
Astronaut Mark Kelly Has David Bowie Moment in U2 Concert
Astronaut Mark Kelly spells out a message (“It’s a beautiful day”) while floating on the International Space Station during a video appearance at a U2 concert in Seattle June 5, 2011.
A U2 concert in Seattle this week officially sailed “out-of-this-world” when NASA astronaut Mark Kelly made an appearance from space in a pre-recorded message.
On Sunday (June 5) at Quest Field in Seattle, U2 lead singer Bono dedicated the song “Beautiful Day” to Kelly’s wife Gabrielle Giffords, a Congresswoman from Arizona who was wounded during a January shooting.
The song holds special significance to Giffords, as she chose it to play as the wakeup song one morning during Kelly’s recent trip on the space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission.
“Imagine a man looking down on us from 200 miles up,” Bono said during the concert, part of U2’s U2360° world tour. “Looking down at our beautiful crowded planet… What would he say to us? What is on your mind Commander Kelly?”
About the Author
A Florida Journalist, Photographer, and Art Director with an eclectic client list of individuals and organizations with musical, visual, educational, and editorial interests.