Back to the Future — On that day (September 29, 1988), the launch of space shuttle Discovery marked America’s anxiously awaited return to space. This was NASA’s first manned mission since the Challenger had exploded after lifting off two years earlier.
“Just Say Go” signs and green ribbons were all around Brevard County, expressing a renewed optimism on Florida’s Space Coast. Nowhere was the hope higher, and more on display, than in the small, downtown village that connects Cocoa and Rockledge, two of Florida’s oldest, picturesque, coastal communities.
Two of the best seats in the World’s most exciting theater. Front row center, comfortably on the Indian River, across from Merritt Island, Mosquito Lagoon, the VAB, and Launch Complex #39, Planet Earth’s Most Sacred Ground.
Enjoy The Ride — After turning east, off US1 and onto Coquina Road, then north on Rockledge Drive (The River Road), you’re prepared to begin one of Florida’s most “scenic” rides, winding alongside the Indian River, five palm and oak-lined miles that comes to a rusty, corrugated metal building, (barely) standing on stilts in the shallow water off the river’s sandy bank.
The deteriorating structure is what’s left of Hub’s Inn, once a restaurant/nightclub, that between 1920 and 1970, was one of the most popular spots on all of Florida’s 600-mile East Coast.
A favorite of Al Capone, who would sail his motor yacht up the Intracoastal Waterway from his home in Miami Beach.
Since it’s closing, Old Hub’s Inn has also been a favorite spottowatch the rockets fly. To see them rise into, and streak across the clear-blue sky, riding fountains of flame, into the distance, over the horizon, and disappearing as they continue on their way into outer space.
Before the launch, looking across the Indian River, toward Merritt Island and Mosquito Lagoon, NASA’s Vertical/Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), is seen standing solid and tall, next to the legendary (launch) PADS 39 A/B.
Tethered to the steel gantry is a rocket and its crew, anxiously waiting for the countdown, explosive ignition, and exciting lift off.
Complex #39 — The NASA logo and American flag painted on the side of the VAB are clearly visible from ten miles away. Rises from the Horizon, a straight line of close-to-the-dune palmetto scrub, running along the long, sandy, cape that, for centuries, has defined Florida’s East Coast.
Launch Complex #39 — Where America’s most accomplished pilots, engineers, scientists, doctors, and military officers, (Astronauts) spent their last moments, before leaving the Earth, and embarking on Mankind’s greatest adventure.
Signing Off — After every launch from the Cape, the rocket leaves a unique after cloud in the sky over Complex #39. A unique signature, lingering in the breeze until it dissipates slowly.
The infinity-shaped cloud pictured here, was signed by space shuttle Discovery (STS-133), after it’s final launch, February 24,2011, a supply mission to the low-orbiting International Space Station. By the end of the year, after two final missions, NASA’s 30-year shuttle program was over.
— U2 (NASA)
Message from above — Then the mission commander of STS-134, what might have been the last of NASA’s 40-year space shuttle program, Mark Kelley 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 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.
International Space Station, Galactic Waste, Privatization, Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic, Elon Musk, SpaceX, Private Property?, Politicization, Militarization, and Space Force Nonsense.
“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.
Fifty years laterar 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, wasCape 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 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?”
Born To Be Wild — Easy Rider (Stepenwolf) “TO THE MOON ALICE”
ALICE’S RESTAURANT WOODSTOCK JIMI HENDRIX “Purple Haze” / “Star Spangled Banner”
Apollo 11 July 21, 1969 One Small Step For Man (Neil Armstrong) One Giant Leap For Mankind.
BILLBOARD TOP 100 
01 “Sugar, Sugar” — The Archies 02 “Aquarius, Let The Sun Shine” — The 5th Dimension 03 “I Can’t Get Next To You” — The Temptations 04 “Honky Tonk Women” — The Rolling Stones 05 “Everyday People” — Sly & The Family Stone 06 “Dizzy” — Tommy Roe (vs.Wade) 07 “Hot Fun In The Summertime” — Sly & The Family Stone 08 “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” — Tom Jones 09 “Build Me Up Buttercup” — The Foundations 10 “Crimson and Clover” — Tommy James & The Shondells (Prince) 11 “One” — Three Dog Night 12 “Crystal Blue Persuassion” — Tommy James & The Shondells (Morcheeba) 13 “Hair” — The Cowsills 14 “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”— Marvin Gaye 15 “Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet” Henry Mancini 16 “Get Together” The Youngbloods
Three Days of Peace & Music
Woodstock Music Festival Within a month of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon, the legendary Woodstock Music Festival (“Three Days Of Peace And Music”) was lived on a farm in Upstate New York (August 15-17).
17 “Grazing in the Grass” The Friends of Distinction 18 “Suspicious Minds” Elvis Presley 19 “Proud Mary” Creedence Clearwater Revival 20 “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” Jr. Walker & The All Stars 21 “It’s Your Thing” The Isley Brothers 22 “Sweet Caroline” Neil Diamond 23 “Jean” Oliver 24 “Bad Moon Rising” Creedence Clearwater Revival 25 “Get Back” The Beatles with Billy Preston 26 “In the Year 2525” Zager & Evans 27 “Spinning Wheel” Blood, Sweat & Tears 28 “Baby, I Love You” Andy Kim 29 “Going in Circles” The Friends of Distinction 30 “Hurt So Bad” The Lettermen 31 “Green River” Creedence Clearwater Revival 32 “My Cherie Amour” Stevie Wonder 33 “Easy to Be Hard” Three Dog Night 34 “Baby It’s You” Smith 35 “In the Ghetto” Elvis Presley
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.