Back to the Future — On that day, September 29, 1988, the launch of the space shuttle Discovery was to be America’s long awaited return to space — NASA’s first manned mission since the Challenger exploded two years before.
“Just Say Go” signs and green ribbons were all around Brevard County that afternoon, expressing a renewed optimism in America’s leading role in the exploration of space.
Nowhere was hope higher, and more on display, than in the small village that connects two of Florida’s oldest and most picturesque coastal towns. Sitting comfortably on the Indian River, across from Merritt Island, The Mosquito Lagoon, and Cape Canaveral, they were quiet winter resorts, familiar to 19th Century Florida.
A hundred years later, the towns were still small, but a change was gonna come. The National Aeronautic Space Administration National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had chosen The Cape to test their rockets, and make their quest for The Moon. The Space Coast (Cocoa/Rockledge) had become the focus of America’s close attention. Walter Cronkite’s too, front row center, the best seats in the World’s most exciting theater.
Driving into Rockledge from the south, we turn off US1 onto Coquina Road, not much more than a sand trail that leads down to the Indian River (intracoastal waterway) and one of Florida’s most scenic rides.
Five miles north on the palm-lined and oak-shaded Rockledge Drive, including a ride through Cocoa Village, across SR520, and onto the higher elevated, north side of what locals call The River Road.
At the end of the ride, we arrive at our first destination. The old, rusty, nearly fallen, corrugated metal building was once the popular seafood restaurant and nightspot called Hub’s Inn.
Today, it marks a favorite spot from where to watch the rockets fly.
Looking across the Indian River, toward Merritt Island, the monstrous Vertical/Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) looms large. The NASA logo and American flag painted on its side are clearly visible from ten miles away, and its silhouette dominant on a horizon mostly made up of a long line of palmetto scrub that covers the wide, sandy cape that has always defined Florida’s East Coast.
The point on Earth from where humankind embarked on its most ambitious voyage.
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 from Cape Canaveral, each rocket leaves its own, unique signature. An after cloud that lingers in the tropical breeze until it dissipates slowly. This infinity-shaped cloud was written by the space shuttle Discovery (STS-133), after it’s final launch, February 24, 2011, on its way to re-supply the International Space Station. Within a year, two shuttles followed Discovery, and NASA’s 40-year shuttle mission was over.
MESSAGE FROM ABOVE — Mark Kelley, commander of the next to last space shuttle mission, was invited by U2 frontman Bono to take five minutes of his concert audience’s time to deliver a message of peace love and unity, from the International Space Station, to the people of Earth, especially to his wife, Gabrielle Giffords.
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 the STS-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.
A Day In The Life— Ten minutes on Florida’s Space Coast, including watching, with a young family, seeing its first manned launch (the space shuttle Discovery), its fiery launch and rapid ascent, streaking across the mostly clear blue, Florida sky, away from the Cape, on its way to the International Space Station, orbiting 300 miles above, outside the atmosphere of Earth.
A reminder of my mother (who is present this day), fifty years earlier, taking me, my sister, and my brother into our front yard in Cocoa, to watch Alan Shepard become the first American to see outer space.
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
SR50 “The Road Through Time And Space” Enjoy The Ride.
Patrick Air Force Base, Picnic Tables, 2nd Light, Touch and Gos, Pineda Causeway shortcut, U2 takeoff, F-16s across the Turnpike, Hawk chasing Eagle, Isuzu Trooper (Red) Targeted by a pair of A-10s. After NOT seeing Pink Floyd in a torrential rain at the Tangerine Bowl. On to Gainesville.
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.
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 (warning) of how Donald Trump not only didn’t make America any greater, he nearly destroyed our effort to boldly go where no man has gone before. “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 a countdown on the host family’s primitive black and white television set with its aluminum foil-wrapped rabbit ear antenna.
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.
A western extension of SR 40 continues from US 41 in Dunnellon as SR 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 HotelHenry Plant was Henry Flagler’s rival, fellow Railroad baron, and Florida Pioneer, who turned his tracks west, toward Tampa.
Flagler continued south, down Florida’s East Coast, with a dreamer’s eye on Key West, the industrial age, land developer’s, FLORIDA MOON.
De Leon Springs
Blue Spring St. Johns River Orange, Florida
(SR40)East to West — Ormond Beach, Ocala National Forest, Silver Springs, Crystal River, Yankeetown, Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve,
Deland (SR44) 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
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, 2011) 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?”
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A Florida Journalist, Photographer, and Art Director with an eclectic client list of individuals and organizations with musical, visual, educational, and editorial interests.