Little change of pace here....
So i took friday off work and decided that i would go see some tax dollars in action down at the space coast. Yes, it was the last shuttle launch and as my friend would put it, "but not the last launch there". He wants to make sure that EVERYONE knows that there will be more rocket style launchs over the many years between now and the next shuttle version(assuming there is one). Check out his page here, he is a connosure of space program information: http://spaceyideas.com/ozzie/ or http://www.spacelaunchinfo.com Check out his space launch info page.
So at 6:30am i start watching the news, still not sure about going down to titusville. The launch is listed at 30% chance, quite low. After about an hour of watching the news, alternating between news stations during commericals and then finally the NASA channel, i saw the astronauts being brought out to the shuttle. Figuring they would not do such a thing if they were to "scrub" the launch, i quickly got ready and headed out the door.
The trip itself was an uneventful 1:30 minute ride to the coast. Course when i arrived in Titusville, it was quite a different story. Cars lined the streets near the end of highway 50 and as i approached route 1, cars could be seen for miles parked all over the place(median, sides, etc). What stunned me the most was the fact that people were just walking down the highway, now i had been to the last launch, this was not the case and there were no where near as many people. I drove down route 1 for about 10 miles till i hit the center of Titusville, my goal being Space View Park. The park was packed, way beyond the last launch, you couldlnt even trun down the road to it(they rebroadcast the NASA channel there). So like last time i drove over the Sand Point Park hoping to find a space. That park was so full that i had to reverse out of it for about a half mile trying not to hit any cars(course i ended up being one of three doing this). Luckily i pulled out across the street and there happened to be 1 available spot left in this store front. I had to pay 20 bucks to park, but the walk from their place to the bridge was about a half mile, so it was worth it.
At this point, the whole center of Titusville has become a mass of people walking in every direction, vendors on the side streets selling tshirts and other momentos as well as food and drinks. Traffic was flowing pretty good, but that may be because everyone was parking wherever they could as soon as they could. So i walked the half mile or so over the parkway bridge in the hopes of finding a spot to watch the shuttle launch. Just a note, they close the bridge 2 hours before and after launch, so its not possible to drive to the bridge or get anywhere close with a car.
The bridge was packed with people. Being about a mile long, the entire bridge was packed side to side, all four lanes, with people just standing around. By now it was around 9:45am, still about 2 hours before launch. So i walked around a little trying to get a good spot where i could see the shuttle launch platform with my binnoculars. I eventually found one, unfortunately, after waiting till launch everyone on the ground started to stand up and thats when i discovered that tall people suck. This one guy infront of me kept moving back and fourth, so i kept having a close up view of the back of his head(argh) while i was spotting my shot. So the count down comes to a close, or so we thought, it stopped at 31 seconds because of a technical glitch. I later found out that the atlantis computer had not registered the launch towers connection being pulled away. They apparently verfied by camera and then overrode the error(found this out on the NASA channel later on at night while watching the flight day review). Then someone started counting down again, so everyone knew it was on! Sure enough at the end, the bright glow of rocket boosters blinded the gathered masses as the rockets lifted the shuttle through the sky into the cloud bank. Course unlike the endeavour launch, the clouds were much higher this time, so i got to see even more hang time! Course, if you hang around about a minute or so after, you then feel the wind burst from the rockets and finally the loud thunderous boom of the engines that rattles everything! Wow, what a sight and what a sound. The fact that there is so much lag between the lift off, sound and wind means the shuttle lifted off so fast, it beat all of them, now thats fast!
So after the launch i walked over to my friend who resides in Space View Park each launch. Took me a minute to find him, but i was able to scarf down a meal before running into him. Hes normally there selling pamphlets with information on upcoming NASA events, but this time he was just sitting around talking to folks. I could feel his depression over the shuttle launches coming to an end. His usual cheery tone was not there until i he once again pointed out the rocket launches that will continue. I knew he was streching for happiness, but was still saddened by the end of the shuttle program. I told him that i fully planned on coming out for some of the rocket launches that you can view at Jetty Park. The press doesnt usually cover them, but i will keep an eye on his page for the information.
I took a short walk from the park over to the "Space Walk of Fame" museum. Its basically located right across the street from the park. It was packed full of people, but i was still able to get around and view all the displays. The displays themselves were all donated by astronauts from around the world as well as different space program support crews and NASA personell. I didnt take any photos of it because i want anyone reading this to visit the museum! Its free entry and you can support the museum by donating or buying merchandise at their store!
By the end of the day, with all my web browsing and picture taking, my phone died and for some reason my car charger stopped working. This unfortunately led me to take the standard way out of town. The standard way included me rolling in traffic for 10 miles down route 1 only to discover they closed the right turn onto 50. I ended up following the rest of the sheeple onto 406(big mistake), then down back to 50(big mistake) where i rolled down 50 at a whopping 5mph for approximately 2 hours. Now keep in mind that i walked around for about 3 hours after the launch, so that should give you an idea of how many people actually came to the launch. I eventually got on 408 and traffic was minimal all the way home.
Here are some pictures for prospective: https://picasaweb.google.com/SunSmasher/BloggerPictures