Seeing Stars

Dasher has been given the green light to get back to normal exercise, so we’ve been taking longer walks, meeting with his canine friends (and their owners) on the walks, and otherwise enjoying the lovely spring weather. He’s over the moon about having tennis balls reintroduced to his life, and carries one around with him whenever he can–he even slept with a tennis ball in his mouth that first day! While I do toss tennis balls for him, right now they’re short throws, and not very many at a time. We have to ramp him up to his previous, crazy-for-the-ball runs that left him panting in tail-wagging joy. But so far, so good. We’re all happy.

A spec-fic writer friend came to the Orlando area for a vacation, and we planned a meet-up. Coincidentally, SpaceX held their first Falcon 9 rocket launch on Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A, the one that the moon missions left from, and most of the space shuttles, as well. Naturally, our plans were rearranged so we could travel to KSC for the launch, scheduled for this past Saturday. Everything looked good until 10 seconds before launch, when the whole thing was aborted. Lots of sad faces and groans from a rapt audience in the bleachers–but we were given free tickets to KSC for the following day’s rescheduled launch. Once again, our plans changed to include the launch.

Still, we were there, at Kennedy Space Center, with all the exhibits and movies and models and real things and information. Even without the launch, we had an amazing time. SpaceX has a great presence, and lots of information is included on the challenges of getting humans to Mars. There’s tons of historic stuff about the shuttle program, building the International Space Station, on the Hubble Telescope and on Kepler, even the Moon Missions! Also current information about the goings-on on the ISS, and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, and more. OK, there was just a whole lot of information, period. Most of it interesting, if not downright fascinating. Lots of stuff to involve kids, get them to participate in science and get jazzed about the sciences. I can’t recommend this enough as a tourist destination!

Sunday brought clouds, and rain, and it looked iffy for quite a while. But in the end, everything cleared up and the launch took place–and wow. Seeing that rocket launch, not on TV but right before my eyes, was so amazing! The sound caught up to us later, a wave of grumbling and roaring that grew, and grew, so that you felt it inside your chest, until it slowly dissipated. After some 10 minutes, the twin sonic booms exploded the air, as the returning Stage 1 rocket returned to the atmosphere and landed–perfectly on target, but out of our viewing range at another pad–some 9 miles away, for re-use later. Here are some official videos, if you’d like a tiny glimpse of what we experienced:


Stage 1 Landing video

Now it’s back to “normal life,” laundry and weeding and cooking and walking the (happier, tennis-ball-carrying) dog, but space lingers in my mind. Space, the need to explore, to discover. The urge to move humanity into the stars. As the bumper stickers in KSC’s gift store read, “I need my space.” 

Let’s do this thing.


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