Counting down to the rocket launch

Over the course of our lives, there’s usually something that happens where we experience an event that is so awe inspiring that it takes our breath away. The birth of a child, a beloved’s marriage; a spectacular sunset. It’s is so incredible that you just know it will be something that you will remember for the rest of your life. I got to experience that very special moment with my husband not too long ago in Florida when we witnessed a rocket launch.

My brother had recently moved to Tampa so we decided to pay him a visit. While planning our trip, we discovered that the timing was perfect for us to finally witness a launch from Cape Canaveral, a long-held bucket list item. My brother thought it was such a cool idea that he decided to go. I bought the tickets and started to plan our trip to the Kennedy Space Center to witness the launch of the space capsule Orion which was going to make an orbit around the moon.

The 2 ½ hr. ride from Tampa to Cape Canaveral went by fairly quickly. The space center finally became visible and everywhere I looked I could see the replicas of rockets and spaceships stretching across the skyline. Needless to say, my camera was constantly clicking as I stared in astonishment at the massive structures around the center.

Everything that you could imagine seeing, or doing that was a related to space was displayed at the space center. I kept myself pretty busy reading the history of the launches, astronauts, the Space Shuttle and anything else that piqued my interest. Time just went by so quickly and before you knew it, it was time to board our bus that would take us to the viewing section for the rocket launch. I was beyond excited at this point!

I wanted to make sure we had the best seats possible in order for my husband to take a video of the launch, (and so I could jump up and down without disturbing anyone)! There were two sizeable digital clocks, one at either end of the bleachers displaying the count down. The weather was picture perfect with a few scattered clouds in the sky and just a hint of the evening dusk starting to show its colors.

Two young boys sat next to me with their parents and had a pretty hard time containing their enthusiasm. So did I!

Even though we were about four miles from the actual launch site, we were reassured that we could capture every moment without any problems. I kept eyeing the count-down clock hoping that it would move faster than it was. I kept pinching myself to make sure that I was really at Cape Canaveral and it wasn’t a dream!

And, it wasn’t!

I glanced over one more time at the countdown clock and it was at 20 seconds. Then it hit 10 seconds and the crowd began their chant of counting: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. And, we have lift off! From the distance I could make out the fiery display of the rockets igniting their engines and then it happened. The rocket was in flight!

The roar wasn’t deafening at our distance, but it was still so intense that we could feel it vibrating against our bodies.

The crowd was screaming as I was also doing my Happy Dance while the rocket shot into the sky. It moved so quickly that I was afraid to blink and miss something more spectacular than what I was already seeing! The crowd was cheering pretty loudly, but I could still hear the rumbling of the rockets as it streaked across the sky, forever climbing higher and higher into space.

It was spectacular! It was mind numbing! It was one of those “Oh my God” moments that literally takes your breath away.

I continued to stare at the rocket as it was barely visible, but just enough to keep me focused. No one moved in the stands and continued to cheer as the rocket became less and less visible; more like a speck at that point. Just the contrails were faintly displayed and it was now becoming only a memory. It reached almost two miles before we were no longer able to see the rocket ship.

The crowd started to disperse but I continued to stand there, still in awe of what I had just witnessed. I had watched throughout the years numerous rocket launches on television but, I never imagined that someday I would actually be able to observe one in person. Being at Cape Canaveral and watching history being made literally right in front of me was 100 gazillion times better than watching it on TV.

A memory I will hold deep in my heart.