As I mentioned in the previous posting, seeing a shuttle in person proved to be daunting. I just didn’t know how daunting it would be. With STS-121 (Discovery) now behind me I started to look for the next opportunity. It would be a little more than a month later in August.
We made all the arrangements with travel, lodging, tickets, and everything. Luckily we reside in Georgia so we don’t live very far away, relatively speaking. STS-115 was going to be our target and this time I only thought it was fitting to bring my mom along. We loaded up and got underway the day BEFORE the launch. I wasn’t taking chances this time around. I will note that we had our oldest son with us at the very patient and quiet age of THREE.
The trip down wasn’t too eventful. We made some pit stops and really just enjoyed the trip down. All was well until literally 30 minutes before reaching Titusville. My sister sent my mom a message informing her that due to a lightning strike at the pad the day before, it was scrubbed until further notice. I was speechless; petrified; stunned. “Not again…” I thought to myself. Having gone well past the point of no return, I sucked it up and decided we’d make the most of it. I certainly didn’t want NASA to take any chances after a lightning strike. Better safe than sorry.
We went ahead and toured KSC the next day which was just mind boggling and amazing. We saw the Saturn V up close and personal. So much of it literally takes your breath away. To top things off I got to meet astronaut Mike Mullane and got the book he was selling autographed. The book was fantastic as it gave me some great insight into the program and to top it off, it was entertaining. I loved the gift shop as I could easily have blown a couple of lifes savings accounts in there. So much to take in and so little time to do it in. It really was a great experience, despite not having seen the launch, I’d do it again.
Scrub #2 was in the books. Atlantis would launch a couple of weeks later with no issues. Once again, I watched from home.
Next attempt wouldn’t happen for well over a year for STS-120. Again, arrangements made, tickets bought and we were set. The day came to leave and I second guessed the weather. Probability of launch being scrubbed due to weather was around 60%. Not good odds. Also working against me was limited time off from work and limited money to use for lodging. I made the decision to stay put for one day. It cost me big time. Launch was a go. A hole opened up and Atlantis was cleared for launch. I was, again, stunned. My luck in trying to catch a launch was laughing at me. We watched from home, again. I’ll note that the cloud deck was low and the shuttle was only visible for maybe 10-15 second after clearing the pad. I didn’t feel completely jipped – despite having wasted money on tickets. The only thing that helped me keep sanity was knowing our view would have been blocked by the clouds anyway. It wasn’t that good of an excuse but I talked myself into believing it.
Attempt #3, which was supposed to be a scrub, was now in the books. For the third time in a row, I had watched from home.
That last attempt was fall of 2007. It would be nearly 4 more years before I made one final attempt; an attempt that nearly fell apart at the last minute.