Thursday at 9:20p.m.: Already, this launch feels markedly different than our visit last November for what has become known around Lofty Ambitions as the not-launch. Getting off the plane this time brought with it waves of that famous Florida humidity. Last fall, the Space Coast was actually a bit chillier than our adopted Southern California home. The differences kept piling up.
Last fall, the drive across the parkway was dark and solitary. This time, we faced a nonstop display of lightning illuminating hundreds of cars sharing the road with us. The car rental agent quipped that he’d checked in a party of thirty Brazilians the day before, all here to see the launch.
As we pulled into our familiar Titusville Super 8, we were stunned to find that the mom-n-pop Italian restaurant, Jimmy and Cora’s II, where we had eaten every dinner during our last trip, was gone, replaced by the Garden Club. While Anna checked in, Doug grabbed a table at the restaurant. It still served Yeungling on tap.
We would have posted this after dinner, but we were tired, and the hotel wireless connection wasn’t cooperating, perhaps because of the rough weather. Some things feel the same, but we’re hoping for a different outcome.
Friday 7:15a.m.: We woke at 5am. That’s 2am in our reeling California minds. The news reported that the countdown was running smoothly.
As we headed to the accreditation office for our media badges, we saw pockets along the coast filled with RVs, cars, and tents. The news reported that 750,000 people are expected to view the launch in person here. They recommended that people driving in from Orlando (a 25-minute drive for us last night) leave by 8am to arrive in time for the 3:47pm launch. Who knows when we’ll be able to get back to the motel, if the launch goes off as planned?
Meanwhile, we secured a shared spot in the Annex at the KSC Press Center, and we’re parked in an extra lot. The main building’s desk spots are full, and the Annex is nearly so, though reporters are only now trickling in. We’re on a standby list for the astronaut walkout, the seats on the bus having been filled yesterday. We have a few one-on-one interviews set for this afternoon.