Certainly a privilege and humbling experience as we continued our space learning mission from a week before when we visited NASA - to witnessing this momentous event :)
We watched the launch of space shuttle Atlantis in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, 2.28pm across at Titusville from Launch Pad 39A. Atlantis and its six-member crew are on a 11-day mission to the International Space Station, transporting spare hardware to the outpost and returning with a station crew member who spent more than two months in space. There will only be 6 more space shuttle launches, and this is the first of which to deliver critical spare equipment parts to the International Space Station. As such, the Atlantis crew is carrying the largest and the most critical on this mission.
Even at such a distance across the lagoon at Titusville from the launch pad, we could hear the thunderous roar and the smell of burning fuel, which followed what our eyes saw as the rockets blasted off just split seconds before. The girls stood transfixed and spell-bound. The park, peppered with cameras on tripods, deck chairs and seniors peering through binocs, ruptured with applause
Being at NASA the week before touring the exhibits and watching the various shows provided us with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the multitude of factors that needed to go right, for a successful launch. This was how close we got to the launch pad on our " Up-Close" tour. And seeing the preparations for launch just drove home how real (and dangerous) space exploration was, and made the launch all the more poignant for us.