5/23/2000

So we drove down the

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:48 pm

So we drove down the east coast of Florida with no particular destination in mind. Drive until we didn’t feel like it and then stop at a beach somewhere was the plan. Cocoa Beach was where we ended up, in a motel built and owned by “The Original Seven Astronauts”. For those of you who didn’t watch I Dream of Jeannie, Cocoa Beach is just across the water from the Kennedy Space center. I’d been doing a very poor job of keeping up with the specifics, but I knew that a shuttle was on the launch pad, waiting to go up and do some work on the new space station. I knew it had been there for over a month, suffering from delay after delay. The latest delays were due to some unrelated rocket that was to be launched first. We could see the pads across the water, lit up very nicely. RVs and campers were lining all the roads, parked along the right-of-way along the beach. The hotels were jammed (though we got a room with no problem). Anxious people were everywhere. Without checking a paper or any official program, we determined that the latest schedule had the shuttle launching sometime Friday. It was a nice bit of luck that we just happened to be right there, right then. The launch itself occured at 5:30ish am, just a few minutes before sunrise. It was beautiful — I’ve never seen anything like it. The fire, the smoke, the noise. The beach a few feet from the motel room was the perfect spot to watch it, too. Absolutely spectacular. Or so I was told. I didn’t wake up until 8. The first thing I did was flip through the TV to find out when the launch was supposed to happen. I found “The NASA Channel”, and they were already showing live video from space. Dagnabit. Again I say, dagnabit. Let this be a lesson for you: when you’re in Cocoa Beach, find out if there’s going to be a launch, and when it is, before you go to bed.

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