We arrived at the Space Coast RV Resort in the early afternoon and got ourselves set up for the week. The Delta IV rocket carrying a next-generation GPS satellite into orbit was scheduled to launch at around 8:15pm, but the weather was taking a turn for the worse. After some torrential rains and heavy winds, things calmed down so we drove about 25 minutes to the prime viewing area, arriving about two hours before the launch. For Delta IV launches, it’s recommended to park along the side of the road near Port Canaveral where the cruise ships dock. The rain didn’t let up, so the launch was scrubbed at around 7:30. Fortunately, it was rescheduled for the next day, with a 90% chance of good weather.
We returned on Friday, getting there earlier since the weather was perfect. Before long, car after car pulled up next to us along the side of the road, and eventually there was no room left for late arrivals. We read our books, caught up on e-mail, and chatted, so the 3-ish hours went by pretty quickly. The launch happened right on schedule, and was a fun experience! Since we were parked about 8 miles from the pad, it took over 30 seconds for the sound to reach us after we saw the launch. When it did, it was really impressive. I commented that it felt like someone turned a subwoofer up to “11”. We’re glad we were able to catch the launch, and hopefully it won’t be our last! Our video of the launch is below, but the puny microphone on our point-n-shoot was overwhelmed by the deep rumble of the launch, so it just sounds like wind.
We spent a few days in the “real world” taking care of grocery shopping, cleaning Rover’s insides, working on our budget, taking Max and Opie to the nearby dog park, and other mundane tasks. After the weekend crowds were gone, we headed to the Kennedy Space Center for a full day of fun (and education).
The Space Center was great! We’d visited a long time ago, but a lot has changed since then, and we needed a refresher course anyway. Most of the historical exhibits were really fascinating, giving insight into the space race during the cold war, or Goddard’s early experiments with rocketry. We did wander through one exhibit that purported to be about our robot emissaries to space, which we found to be lacking, even with the understanding that it was geared towards kids. The Apollo Saturn IV rocket was of course impressive and we spent a lot of time walking around (under) it in awe of its size and complexity, and the audacity it took to successfully create it in under a decade and launch it to the moon. The Space Shuttle Atlantis was also on display, and the Shuttle Launch simulator “ride” was a good experience too.
Another highlight of the day was the bus tour of the Space Center campus. Our driver was fun and did a good job explaining everything we saw. We were lucky and got to drive right past the “crawler” platform that carried the Apollo rocket and the Space Shuttles to the launch pad. It was rolling (crawling) down the road at 1 MPH. It’s a massive vehicle and I’m glad we got to see it in action!
What better way to top off our week than a trip to the beach? Cocoa Beach was a short drive from our campground, so we packed up our chairs, towels, and stopped by 7-Eleven for some snacks to keep our energy up. In short—we had a blast! The water was nice, and we could wade out pretty far. There were enough people there to not feel lonely, but not so many that it felt crowded. Surfers came and went, and a couple of kite surfers sailed on by. We spent the day reading in the sun, swimming in the sea, people watching, and snacking. We’re not experienced sunbathers, so we both missed a couple spots with our sunblock… lesson learned, and hopefully we’ll be more thorough next time.
With another week behind us, we turn North and head to St. Augustine, for real this time!