Tag Archives: St Augustine

July 2017 Road Trip

One of my project trips got postponed, which unexpectedly opened up my agenda. What does one do with an open agenda? Once checks out something to do, and texts some friends to go on a road-trip. Goal: Attending the July 2nd Space-X rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, about 8 hours of driving away.

I decided to leave for the road trip and was on the road no more than 2 hours later. We decided to do a quick visit to Savannah, booked a hotel between Savannah, GA and Jacksonville, FL while on the road and it was quite nice (and hot). Savannah has a lot of (slave) history and being one of the largest ports on the east coast, there is quite some activity there. No high-rises, lots of parks and feels old and nice.

Day two, on our way to Cape Canaveral (Rocket Launch window opened around 6:30 pm) we made a detour into St Augustine, which is supposedly the oldest Spanish town in the USA. Including a fort with a daily cannon shooting exhibition around 2:30pm. It was so hot, reminded me why Americans don’t typically visit Florida in summer time. Quite nice town, again, but I was filled with anticipation for the rocket launch later that day. Every hour I was more excited to finally see a rocket launch… the timing was great, weather was good, what could possibly go wrong?

By the time we arrived at Cape Canaveral, parking on a small island between the lakes, with a great view on launch pad 39A, we realized we did not think this through. We did not bring decent cameras (other than phone), no binocular, no chairs or anything to bring some shade while waiting in the Florida heat. The closer we got to the launch window, more cars arrived and there was quite a crowd (~40-50 cars) by 7:30pm. We started following the livestream and the countdown began… Everything going well, 15,… 12, 11, 10, 9,… 0? Nothing… the computer aborted at 10 seconds into the launch. After waiting another 15 minutes, with thunder storms coming in from the north-west, it was clear the launch would be scrapped and very disappointed we drove off towards Orlando where we planned to visit Sea World the next day.

Sea world is always nice. The killer Whales (Orka’s) are awesome creatures, so are the Penguins (the only place to get closer to Penguins must be in the wild). While we were at Sea World, Space-X announced that there was a new launch window this day, July 3rd, at the same time as yesterday. Since the launch was the primary reason to make the trip to Florida, we decided to drive back to Cape Canaveral. This would add another 2 hours to our trip, but so be it. July 4th is a holiday so no issues arriving home deep into the night. While driving to the launch site, we got into a pretty bad storm… unfortunately the storm seemed to be going the same direction as we were… When we arrived at the same place we were the day before, the storm looked pretty bad, and Space-X decided to move the launch about half an hour. People started to come in again, and an even larger crowd then the day before gathered. While we turned in disbelieve to sky, thinking “oh don’t let this stop the launch!”, our weather apps predicted the storm would simply evaporate. Not move in any direction, but evaporate. Ground control moved the launch to the very last minutes of the launch window. Then something amazing happened… the sky started to clear up. Where a storm was just 10 minutes ago, now there were beautiful clear blue skies! We started getting excited again… this was finally going to happen!… The webcast started, countdown started, 1 minute, 45 seconds, 15 seconds, 10, 9,…. NOTHING. ****** NOTHING again!!! The computer aborted again at 9 seconds into the countdown. The launch being at the very end of the launch window was automatically scrapped. We jumped into the car and started driving back to Atlanta.

It was a long drive back, arriving home around 4:30 am. Nice road trip, but we missed the spectacle. The only consolation being that by the time we hit the Georgia state boarder, Space-X had already scrapped the launch on July 4th to further investigate. We ended up watching a successful launch and 1st stage recovery on TV July 5th.

Next potential road trips:
- August 11th: Space-X launch from Cape Canaveral Launch pad 39A
- August 21st: 100% Solar Eclipse just 2 hours north of Atlanta (Atlanta should be 90%)
- November TBD: First Falcon Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral Launch pad 39A with attempted recovery of 3 first stage boosters. (Low chance of successful launch, but a spectacle no matter what!*)

*If it launches