I still feel like a kid, chatting excitedly about the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch over the weekend. I’ve been sharing this with the baristas at Perq (one of my favorite hangouts), the cashier at Trader Joes, and even the neighbors I encounter while walking the dog. Pretty much anyone who will listen.
The experience was exhilarating.
The calm of nature seemed to somehow balance out the eager energy of the 2,000-person crowd at the Saturn Station within the Kennedy Space center. The clouds were dark gray, and threatened a storm that could scrub the launch yet again. The Banana river, standing between us and the rocket, was serenely still. Even the four alligators that visibly cruised these waters seems unrushed.
But my heart was beating anxiously during our 90-minute wait.
Learning about the other space-lovers during that interim was both interesting and engaging… and thankfully helped the time accelerate.
Within the 10-minute window to launch, the crowd hushed.
The live feed began over the loudspeakers.
8-minutes and counting.
Weather is a green for go.
A cheer rose from the group.
4-minutes and counting.
All eyes were glued across the water.
15-seconds and counting.
The condensed moisture began to billow out from beneath the rocket just before the blinding orange-yellow spark indicated that the 1.7 million pounds of thrust pressure was ready to launch it into space.
It was like watching a silent film, minus the simultaneous whoops and hollers as the rocket became airborne.
Tears streamed from my eyes at the beauty and wonder of it all.
Then, as through bracing for the invisible tsunami of sound creeping our direction, the onlookers became quiet again.
The sound began as a low, deep roar. As if building to the crescendo of a symphony, louder it became. It was like a sustained crash of thunder that was soon intermixed with high pitch frequencies and the rustling of the bushes and trees nearby.
The sounds waves shook everything in its path to the core, including me.
The intermission seemed incredibly brief before the finale of the show—the booster’s first returning to Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.
If you blinked, you could have missed the bright orange flame hurling back down toward the earth.
Then came the sonic boom, and another rousing cheer from the crowd!
The launch of the rocket not only set in motion supplies to be delivered to the international space station, but it lifted my energy in a way unlike any other experience.
Perhaps it was because being there was a powerful way in which I could honor my dad, knowing that I was really sharing this experience with him in spirit.
Maybe it was because the harmonious synchronicity stood in such stark contrast to the day before when the launch was aborted just 13-seconds before liftoff.
It could have even been the swell of pride I felt for mankind, and our ability to work harmoniously together to not only create something so spectacular, but to celebrate it in such a way that our individual differences were irrelevant.
Or, it might have been the magic of being fully present in the moment.
Regardless of the reason, I am changed.
A spark has been lit in my heart, propelling me forward to explore.
A fire has been ignited in my soul to celebrate life in its fullest capacity, everyday.
Perhaps most importantly, an enthusiasm has been rekindled in me to pursue my passions and dreams, for I know that I have same power flowing through me as that used to launch the Falcon 9 into outer space.
And, with that power, the possibilities for expansion are endless.
As a side bar, here are a few factoids I learned over the weekend:
- The Falcon 9 rocket weighs 1.1 million pounds
- The crawler, used to transport the launch umbilical tower and the rockets, weighs 6 million pounds.
- The crawlers have a lifting capacity of 18 million pounds.
- It takes the crawler 8 hours to transport the rocket 3.5 miles.
- The Kennedy Space Center is located on 146,000 acres.
- There is a bald eagle nest on site (that we saw from the bus) that has been there for over 50 years and weighs about 800 pounds. The opening of that nest is equivalent to a king-sized mattress.
- The Kennedy Space Center can accommodate about 12,000 guests. On Saturday, we were one of about 10,000 people who arrived to see the historic launch (around 4,000 at the actual viewing area). The number of people out to see the launch on Sunday was half that amount.