information at the motel for a restaurant to eat at in the vicinity of
Jetty Park. It was from Jetty Park that we intended to watch the
launch. There was a seafood restaurant at Port Canaveral that
look promising. The name of it was "Rusty's".
restaurant turned out
to be a marvelous find for us. The seafood was great and the
prices were inexpensive. I had the encrusted flounder which was
the special that evening and it was very tasty. Since we were
there at happy hour, the drink prices were very reasonable.
and I enjoyed
this restaurant a lot. Perhaps even a little too much. Thankfully
it was very close to Jetty Park. Being the adventuresome type
Mary decided to sneak a glass of wine out of the restaurant so that she
would have something while waiting for the launch.
Jetty Park we found that
quite a few people were there anticipating the launch. For a
short while we walked along the beach. It soon be came obvious
that the prime viewing location for the launch would be on the jetty
that sticks out into the ocean.
easy thing to do would
have been to have gone back to where the jetty starts and enter onto
the walk way there. We however decided that was farther than we
wanted to walk so we entered the jetty from on the beach.
rocks to the walkway was a little treacherous. An older gentleman
was kind enough to stop and offer Mary a hand for crossing over the
protective railing. Before I knew it, Mary was cautioning the
gentleman to be careful so that he didn't spill her wine.
waited for the launch,
I noticed a person that we had seen a few days before at the Epcot
theme park. Now the reason that this person stood out to me was
that he had a hat on from STS-59. This wasn't just any hat, but
appeared to be a hat that would have been obtained from the mom and pop
t-shirt shop in Houston that the astronauts dealt with. I had the
very same hat from when we attended the STS-59 launch.
knowledge, I began to think that this person must be related to one of
the astronauts that was on both STS-59 and STS-76. The two
overlapping candidates were either our friend Linda or else Jay
Apt. This man had a certain resemblance to Jay, so I deduced that
might be his father.
the shy person in our
family I dispatched my emissary Mary to find out, if that was Jay's
dad. Off Mary went while I set up the cameras for recording the
Delta launch. In a short while Mary came back and informed me
that I owed her big time.
turned out the person
was not Jay's dad. Not only that, but the person was not even
from America, he was from France and did not speak English. So
much for my logical deduction. How or why this person who was in
Florida at the time of STS-76 was wearing a hat from the STS-59 mission
of two years ago, I have no earthly idea. I guess it was just one
of those amazing coincidences. My emissary did not appreciate the
humor in our little foray into international diplomacy.
arrived at Jetty
Park before the Sun went down. Now it was after the Sun had set
and it was fairly dark. You could see the Delta perched on the
launch pad waiting for the commands that would send it skyward.
The sky itself was overcast with a fairly low layer of clouds.
distance the base of
the rocket flickered as it came to life to hurl itself away from the
Earth. As if the Sun was rising the bright flame from the rocket
removed the darkness. Upward the rocket flew until it pierced the cloud
bank like an arrow from an archer.
recorded soundtrack of the
crowd watching this launch is the only thing that could do the
description of what we saw justice. What a stupendous view this
was. As the rocket disappeared from view, the clouds burst into
flames. Well the weren't on fire, but the lighting effects from
the rocket exhaust made it appear that way.
could see the
contrail from the rocket angling up from the ground into the
illuminated cloud bank. For all the world, this looked like the
straightest tornado funnel cloud that I had ever seen.
rose higher the clouds
thinned out briefly and you could once again see the flames from the
exhaust and the contrail. All to soon the rocket was obscured by
the clouds not to be seen again.
absolutely had to be the
most spectacular rocket launch that I ever saw. I was now four
for four on launches. Up to that point in my life, I had
attempted to view two shuttles launches. I was fortunate enough
to see both of them. I had attempted to view two unmanned
launches and I was fortunate enough to view both of those. My
track record for shuttle landings though was at the opposite end of the
spectrum. I had attempted to view the STS-59 landing and it went
to California instead. Would STS-76 change my landing luck?