Today was a good day. My fourteen year old has been hassling me to take him to the Kennedy Space Center for each of the three years we've come to Cocoa Beach for baseball. I've never been excited about giving up my limited beach time, but this year I relented. I'm so glad I did. We experienced a simulated shuttle launch, saw several interesting films, toured the original mission control for the Apollo/Saturn program, and took a bus tour. The Atlantis is already on the launch pad for her upcoming mission in May, so that was cool to see. Also on the launch pad was the unmanned rocket that launched earlier this evening to deploy a satellite of some sort. The picture I took of the rocket on the launch pad didn't turn out that great, but oh the launch pictures. Way cool.
The beach was crowded when Connor and I went out, but we found us a nice spot and parked ourselves on beach towels. The moon was out tonight so it wasn't nearly as dark as it was on Sunday night. The atmosphere was festive. Everyone was excited to see the launch. Most of us had never seen one before. We were entertained by a couple of gentlemen from New York as we waited. I love New Yorkers. They have such a colorful way of expressing themselves. "It's a f'n rock concert out here." And it was.
At exactly 8:32 on the dot, the sky to the north turned orange. The hotels and condos in that direction were bathed in the flaming glow. If we hadn't known better, we might have thought several of them had blown up. The only thing missing was the mushroom cloud. The rocket rose above the orange haze and seemed to hang for just a moment, as if gravity would win and pull it back to earth. Then it was streaking upward and out to sea. A full ten seconds later we heard the rumbling, booming roar trying in vain to catch up with the engines that created it. We watched until it was a tiny pinprick in the sky, and then we watched it disappear into space.
Humanity is capable of amazing feats. We can literally break the bonds that hold us to this planet and reach beyond to the unknown.