Friday, February 25, 2011
A Different Kind of Launch Day
Usually, when we talk about launches on this website, we're talking about our newest Harlequin American releases. Today, though, let's talk about a different kind of launch.
That’s a NASA photo of the shuttle Discovery sitting on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy. As I’m writing this, it’s lift-off day on Florida’s Space Coast. The shuttle Discovery is set to blast off on its final trip to the International Space Station a little before five pm. And that means tourists and visitors have thronged Brevard County. Titusville, especially, has taken on a carnival-like atmosphere.
There’s not a hotel to be had—for love or money—between New Smyrna and Palm Bay. Campers, tents and motor homes line the shore along the rivers. They crowd the parking lots at the beaches. Restaurants are jam-packed, and souvenir stands have popped up on every street corner.
Any rocket launch is an awe-inspiring sight, and a shuttle launch is extraordinarily spectacular. The thunder of a thousand freight trains fills the air. The ground literally shakes as more than two million pounds of rocket fuel provides nearly seven million pounds of thrust to get the big bird off the ground. Flames spew from the huge engines, creating a fiery trajectory that can be seen from as far away as Orlando.
But if you still have a shuttle launch on your Bucket List, you’ll want to book your travel plans soon. Discovery will be moth-balled when it returns from this flight. Endeavor makes its final trip to the Space Station in April. And after Atlantis lifts off in June, that’s it. Now that our space program is headed in a new direction, who knows when—or if—there’ll ever be another manned flight.
Pictures of Discovery on the launch pad and at lift-off courtesy of the National Air and Space Administration. View these and additional photos at www.nasa.gov
Discovery at Lift-off on 2/24/11