I have lived in Orlando my entire life and had never seen a shuttle launch from Brevard county — until TODAY. Of course, I’ve seen them from my backyard, like everyone else in Orlando, but I’d never been able to have the total experience. Since this was the last shuttle launch ever, I set out to get tickets. First of all, I applied to NASA Tweetup. They randomly selected 150 people out of the 4,000+ who applied — I was not accepted. Next, I entered a lottery for an opportunity to purchase tickets. Wasn’t selected for that either. I was really upset that I might never see a shuttle launch and told my husband it was a shame that I’m a native Floridian, but would never see a shuttle.
A few days later while I was having lunch with friends, my husbanded texted me that he needed my SSN for shuttle tickets. I thought I read the text wrong — did he really say SHUTTLE TICKETS? The next day, he said we needed to go to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) so that we could be badged in. I couldn’t believe it. The week prior to the shuttle we drove over to KSC and got our temporary badges. These badges got us onto the KSC complex unescorted so we drove all around the unrestricted areas. I have no idea how he was able to pull it off, but he did.
There was only a 30% chance of liftoff today, but we got up at 4a and left the house by 5a for our trek to KSC. Due to heavy traffic, it took us about 2.5 hours to get there, but we were in our spot by 7:30a. We went to the cafeteria for breakfast and settled into our spot right outside the VAB building across the street from the press area. The weather was iffy all morning long, but we still had hope the shuttle would launch today. There was a hold at :31 seconds and I thought, okay this is it — it isn’t going. However, they resumed the countdown and the shuttle launched, as planned. After the launch, we had lunch at the KSC cafeteria and headed home. It took us about 3 hours to get home and it was worth every minute.
I can’t explain the feeling, but seeing the shuttle launch is one of my top 5 life experiences. It was truly amazing and something I will never forget. An unforgettable day.