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This is a Blast from the Past post. These posts chronicle our travels and other life events before we started blogging! These posts are usually heavy on the photos, but lighter on the narrative text.
I wanted to revive my “Blast from the Past” posts. Thanks to a recent trip to Florida (and another one forthcoming for our trip to Disney!), I started to think back to previous trips to Florida and thought I’d cover those trips!
Back in 2010, Ken and I knew that the NASA shuttle program was coming to a close, and we decided to get tickets to see one of the last shuttle launches. In May 2010 we watched the last launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.*
It was truly one of the most tremendous experiences of my life. I don’t throw around that phrase lightly. I know one of the other experiences in my life that has that designation was my trip to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
I had seen a few shuttle launches as a kid, but mostly from nearby Cocoa Beach and never actually at Kennedy Space Center property. Being closer was just incredible.
As the countdown went to zero and we could see the shuttle lift off the launch pad, there was this incredible ROAR that followed. It was several seconds after the shuttle was in the air, and the vibration from the rocket engines was so amazing. Powerful. Humbling. That there are things just SO powerful that can be made by humankind. HUMANS CAN LAUNCH THINGS INTO OUTER SPACE.
Anyway, on to photos.
When we got to Kennedy Space Center, there were MANY MANY lines to stand in. One line after another to get us on the right buses that would transport us to the causeway where we’d watch the shuttle launch.
We were tremendously unprepared for this trip! We thought we’d have some time at the Kennedy Space Center before heading to the site to watch the launch. But nope, we were bussed out to the launch site a good six hours before the launch was actually scheduled. Which left us in May Florida heat, with no sunscreen, no water (that we brought anyway, we could purchase it on the causeway), and only one lowly towel to sit on (on the grass).
The people next to us were much more prepared with folding chairs.
The Florida sun was BEATING down on us.
We walked around for a little while. We saw the big countdown clock.
There was also a makeshift post office. If you mailed something there, you’d have a commemorative cancelled stamp.
As the clock counted down, the crowd became electric!
Then the clock approached zero, steam started to spew from the base of the rockets.
For a moment the shuttle and entire launchpad disappeared behind the plumes of smoke/steam.
And we had liftoff!
The shuttle moved with such speed that my camera had a hard time focusing on it!
And within a matter of 90 seconds or so, the shuttle was completely gone from sight and all that was left was a giant plume of smoke.
Kennedy Space Center
The next day, we actually went BACK to Kennedy Space Center to visit.
There was an incredibly somber area, a wall of remembrance for astronauts who lost their lives in the line of duty.
We boarded the bus tour that departs the main area of the Kennedy Space Center every 15 minutes or so. That took us up close to a lot of the launchpads and buildings!
We had just seen a shuttle launch from one of those launchpads the day before!
And then we walked around a really cool area of the Space Center, which included a Saturn V rocket (which is HUGE!), and the original mission control stations for the Apollo missions!
After KSC, we made a brief stop at Cocoa Beach (Ken watched reruns of I Dream of Jeannie when he was a kid! And since that show took place at Cocoa Beach, he wanted to make a stop there!)
One of our last touristy stops during our trip to Florida in 2010 was one of my favorite “off the beaten path” spots in Orlando. Gatorland!
That was it for our 2010 trip to Orlando! The shuttle launch was a truly amazing experience. Although the shuttle program has since retired, I’m hoping to go to another type of launch at some point in the future!