Thursday, January 26, 2006

Twelve Miles Away

On the third day, when we got to the front of the line for the buses to take us to the stands to view the launch, a man came walking up and made an announcement. He told us we wouldn't be going to the viewing stands after all.

There was silence in the ranks. We were trying to figure out what he meant.

We wouldn't be going to the stands where we had been two days before, because the safety guys were worried about the wind and the rocket plume. So he told us they were going to take us someplace else, someplace 12 miles from the pad.

There was silence in the ranks. We were trying to figure out what he meant.

Twelve miles away?

We didn't have to get on the buses, he said. We could stay at the visitor's center and watch from there.

Twelve miles away?

The center was closer, he said. But there was no direct line of sight to the pad. And if the clouds didn't break entirely, the rocket might be behind them before it cleared the treetops. So if we stayed behind, we might not see it at all.

Twelve miles away.

We took the bus. And although we did indeed have a direct line of sight (over water) to the pad, and although there was plenty of room still on the dock in the bay when we got there, we were far enough away that the rocket was merely a small white spot on the horizon.

Twelve miles away. ...I kept my thoughts to myself.

Cape Canaveral, Florida
waiting for the New Horizons/Pluto launch

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