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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

A Shuttle Launch - nearly!

We have been travelling to Florida for a number of years, and have always hoped to see a shuttle launch. Indeed we nearly did see a shuttle a few years back when we were in Miami, or at least my husband nearly saw it.

Nearly being the operative word! We were staying overnight at a hotel in Miami and someone said you can see the shuttle from there, so he hurriedly took himself out to the back of the hotel and stood for some time, in anticipation. When he finally realised that we might be sending out a search party for him he returned to the lobby where people were discussing how marvellous the sight of the shuttle had been. You guessed it - he should have been at the FRONT of the hotel!

From then on it seemed that we were never in Florida at the right time, and of course then there was the terrible accident which put the shuttle out of service for quite a while.

So when we were due to visit our villa in Orlando in September, we watched with interest as the shuttle launch was cancelled several times. In fact we arrived on the first Sunday of September and the shuttle launch was still promised, but facing a number of problems, all of which seemed set to delay it even further. We arranged to go with friends the following Wednesday but it was cancelled, so we decided to try on the Friday. All was set fair, and off we went, picnic in cool box, plenty of iced drinks, chairs and a parasol, as well as cameras of course.

The journey was pretty uneventful. Despite horrifying tales of long traffic jams we fairly breezed along the road and arrived at our chosen spot, near Titusville, in good time. We parked in the car park at the entrance to the Space View Park on the Indian River, just opposite the launch pad. This attractive site, which is dedicated to America’s astronauts, and the men and women who work behind the scenes, is a great place to watch a launch. There is a river walk with a boat and fishing dock, so it is a beautiful place. There are many monuments, plaques mission logo markers and other space related items, which honour the astronauts. There are even bronze handprints of six out of the seven original astronauts.

We chose a good pitch under the trees and waited. The gardens filled up and we could feel the excitement and anticipation rising. All was going well until 40 minutes before the shuttle was due to launch, when it all came to a grinding halt. It was staggering to see how fast people left. And we could only stand and stare at the shuttle across the water, still firmly attached to the launch pad. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is with shuttle launches.

It was a somewhat disappointed group that made its way back to the car, but we decided to go to the beach instead, so it was not a useless journey.

And did we ever see the launch? Now that is another story!

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Page added on: 31 March 2007
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