This week we were invited as VIP's to the Juno Launch at NASA Kennedy Space Center. How did we get VIP tickets you ask? My brother's fiancé's uncle works on the project and they knew we lived in Florida so they got our names on the list. Pretty freaking cool huh?
We figured this was a once in a lifetime chance so we took advantage of every opportunity that was thrown our way from cocktail parties to briefings! It's been a pretty awesome week.
The launch itself was AMAZING! I really didn't expect it to happen the first day and anticipated returning to KSC every day for a few days but to our delight it launched on the very first day!
The rocket was armed with FIVE "SRB's" (Solid Rocket Boosters), the space shuttles have two (although they may differ in size, I'm not sure). None the less, five SRB's insured we would "feel" the launch with all it's power.
We sat in the sweltering heat for about two and a half hours. I brought frozen paper towels to place on our necks and we bought an umbrella at the gift shop. These items saved our hide let me tell you.
My brother was at JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) in California and was giving me blow by blow updates as we waited for liftoff. We could hear Mission Control but sometimes it was garbled or too many acronyms were used (kinda like this post).
When we heard we were clear for liftoff the entire crowd burst into cheers. When the countdown got to T-10 seconds, everyone started counting down along with Mission Control. You first saw smoke and then a very short moment later you saw the orange/yellow fire coming from the bottom of the rocket. And within seconds that sucker was high above the clouds. We could hear the ripples of sound almost immediately but it took a few seconds to actually feel it. The entire area around us shook like an earthquake. And then just like that it was over.
You can tell that the KSC is no stranger to controlling large crowds. We were off those bleachers and in our bus headed back to the main visitor center within about 5 minutes after launch. Every single person seated on our bus still had that silly little adrenaline grin on their faces, Special K and I included.
What an experience. What a sight.
Here is the launch video.
Here is the Juno image gallery.
|Here is the image I took... so far away. |
The sights are much more spectacular in the gallery so go check them out!