When we are at home, we are often unaware of all the launches that are taking place here as Space Ex, NASA, and Blue Horizon prepare to make going into space reliable, commonplace, routine, and lucrative. Here the local media keep us much better informed and we came back early from the Tampa Super Show to see the last practice abort. One large goal is to become capable of safely sending astronauts into space from here rather than Russia. The Challenger accident made it clear that we need to prepare as much as possible to rescue astronauts if something goes wrong, thus aborting the mission. Yesterday a pre-planned maneuver would have separated the capsule where the astronauts sit, from the booster rocket if there were indications that something was wrong with the initial launch. We were sorry to leave the RV show early and even sorrier when the abort was aborted yesterday due to windy conditions. It was rescheduled for today. The weather forecast didn't seem all that great since a cool front is moving through bringing showers. Space Ex personnel needed to be able to observe how the capsule acted after it was jettisoned away from the booster rocket. For our purposes, we wanted clear skies as well to be able to see as much as possible.
But all systems were go as we gathered on the seashore waiting for the 8am launch. We are fortunate to have a friend who makes his living as a videographer and regularly films the launches. He knows where to go and when to go and sometimes has access the rest of us civilians don't have. Since this launch included a planned explosion overhead, local authorities closed many of the roads that would have brought us closer to the launch site. No one wants flaming rocket debris falling on the heads of gawkers. The 8am launch time was moved back few times and finally at 10:30am the rocket took off. The crowd around us cheered. No matter how often we are lucky enough to see a launch, it is a thrill. Sure you can see it better on TV, but but it's great sharing the experience with others, seeing the flash of light and hearing the roar of the engines is an unforgettable experience. The clouds truncated the experience, but we still saw much of the flight. In our immediate area there were launch watchers from as far away as Korea. Since all these missions involve a great deal of trail and error, it is wonderful that we are living so close to the action and can jump into the car whenever things sound promising. The people who had to go home after yesterday's abort were more than disappointed. Knowing how to get back to the campground without sitting in traffic on the main roads is something else we really appreciate.
If you want to see the launch today from the hands of a master videographer click here
If you want to see a recent launch on a much nicer day, click here
It's a treat to see what skill and first rate equipment can convey. The next launch is scheduled to be two days from now. It will launch sixty satellites around the globe. Stay tuned.