In the COVID Bubble - Winter 2021 travel blog

not good viewing in COVID times

watching and waiting

tonight's launch

The area code in Titusville is 321 - apropos when you remember that our space program began here. After some hard times when the government cut back on the space program and little was happening here, private investments have stimulated the growth of a new phase in space exploration. Eleon Musk plans to launch 8,000 satellites that will cover the globe so that everyone everywhere can have access to the internet. So far his network has begun to serve the northern US and Canada and enthusiastic beta users are writing encouraging reviews.

All this satellite launch activity alone has made us somewhat blasé about it all. Here we live about 15 minutes from the Indian River which parallels the coast and we can easily see Cape Canaveral and the rockets poised ready to take off across the water. We used to race to the coast to watch every launch. Because a manned launch to the space station is scheduled for later this weekend, we've read that there are 250,000 people in town to see it blast off. The last time one occurred, the traffic was tied up for hours and in these days of social distancing, we couldn't imagine any spot better to watch it than right where we already are.

Tonight's launch was not manned. It was an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a classified payload for the US Reconnaissance Office. They have been trying to launch it since September, but there are many factors including the weather that caused it to scrub five times this month alone. It can be hard to see much during a night launch, but this one was illuminated by the rays of the setting sun and we almost regretted not trekking to the coast to watch it blast off. Instead we took the easy way out, stepping out our door and looking up in the sky to see its magnificence and hear its power. We were surprised to see that friends in Sarasota on the gulf coast posted photos with a similar view. I'm sure the space force folks are very relieved that it finally got off today.

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