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Friday, March 15, 2019

3-2-1 Blast-off! Space Coast Rocket Launch

Tom, our MeetUp kayak instigator is in the white shorts, gathering us troops before we pushed off. There were six of us.
"You haven't seen a launch yet?" my fellow Space Coast Paddling kayakers asked, incredulously. They accepted that since I moved here less than 6 months before, that maybe that was understandable.  Nonetheless, this area calls itself the Space Coast and its so integral in this regions identity that it even snagged the countdown 3-2-1 as the phone area code.

"Still, you're a virgin," quipped Tom, our kayak leader, hosting the "pop-up" trip tonight.

Indeed, I wanted to check that very "I've seen a Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch" box and was there for that very reason. The last Delta IV rocket was due to launch tonight, sometime between 6:48 and 9:05 pm.

The skies were clear. The temps were pleasant, in the 70s. It was, however, windurfer-windy. The weather was definitely better for his purposes than ours that night, but hey, 2 outta 3 aint bad.

Me, waiting for the rocket launch. Thanks, Sheryl Williams for taking the photo.
Now it was just a question of whether the rocket would actually launch. It's far from a sure thing; cancellations are commonplace. 

Dave tapped a good  launch update website via his phone and kept us apprised. There were some issues, and delays.... The sun set. The night sky slipped in, Orion's 3-star belt easy to spot.  The wind and current steadily swept us closer to the rocket launch site, which was quite aways away from our kayak launch site.

Rocket in the background. My kayak, borrowed from West Marine, is in the foreground. Photos don't do it justice.
Finally, at 8:24 pm the rocket launched.  First the launch pad lit up like a roman candle. Then in all its fiery reverberating glory, the rocket was up. It seemed to hang, looming large for a moment, then became an orange speck.

Going, going, going (and soon it was gone). The last Delta IV rocket launch, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
We got in a good workout fighting the wind and current the whole way back. Upon arrival, we stalled, giving our legs a moment to un-jelly. 

"That," declared my veteran rocket launch watchers, "was a good one."

I had no basis of comparison, but it was pretty damned cool to me!

in the darkness, we helped each other load up our kayaks, and went our separate ways -- until the next Space Coast Paddling Society MeetUp.

My first launch, and hopefully not my last.

Location Location
We launched off the end of Sea Ray Drive, Merritt Island, Florida.



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