“It’s toured the country and the world to honor the dedication and sacrifice of Americans who have lost their lives serving as police officers, firefighters and military personnel. Now, the U.S. Honor Flag will pay tribute to astronauts who have died in the line of duty as it flies this summer aboard space shuttle Atlantis during the shuttle program’s final mission.”
Barring any technical difficulties or weather issues, the shuttle Atlantis will launch for the final time on Friday, July 8, 2011 at 11:40am EDT. The launch also marks the end of the 30 year Space Shuttle Program. After its 12-day mission, Atlantis will return home and retire to its permanent home at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Titusville, Florida.
Back in February I finally made it over the coast to see the Shuttle Discovery’s launch. I must say I was surprised at the view (or lack of view) of the shuttle from as close as I was. I didn’t really see much more than I do from home … a ball of fire and a smoke trail. I thought I would at least see the shuttle like I did on my “dry run”. Heck, I was even able to see the booster rockets separate that time. But I guess a lot depends on the shuttle launch trajectory (the direction it takes off in depending on the wind, weather, etc.). At any rate, I think the whole experience is still worth the trip. It’s more than just watching the launch; it’s about the whole experience and the camaraderie you share with people from all over the world.
If you decide to catch the last shuttle launch, and you’re unable to watch from the KSC property, here is some information on where to watch and a few things to remember:
~ Be there early, camp out overnight or get a hotel room the night before.
There will be people everywhere.
~ Plan to spend the whole day and don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere before, during, or after.
There will be people everywhere. (see the pattern?)
~ Remember, you’re going to be out in the heat (unless you have a camper with a/c) so dress comfortably and light.
~ Take chairs, a tent, a blanket, or whatever you may want to use to set up your spot.
~ Pack up the cooler with plenty of water (or your preferred drink) and take along plenty of snacks and food stuff. If you don’t want to there are alternatives: There’s usually some food vendors set up around the area or you can watch and eat from one of the local restaurants. But remember: There will be people everywhere.
~ Take a portable radio and tune in to NASA radio. You’ll hear the countdown and also hear if there are any delays or if the launch is postponed.
For many this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Relax, Enjoy, Make Memories.