Earlier this year, a friend sent me #NASASocial information, and told me that I should apply to attend their upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. Of course, I immediately filled out the information, but didn't really think I'd get to go.
When the email arrived, telling me I'd been accepted, I screamed. Then I quickly put together the requested information, so that they could arrange for security clearance. Yes, I was going to go to NASA at Cape Canaveral for behind the scenes tours and to watch the launch from the NASA Causeway.
I remember rushing home from church on July 20th, 1969, so that we could watch those first steps on the moon on our small black and white TV. I was only 4 years old at the time and sat on my dad's lap as he tried to impress upon me just how amazing this was. Of course, I didn't fully understand it at that age, but it forever changed the way I looked at the moon and shaped my views on science.
Getting an invitation to attend the NASA Social event was a dream come true and the trip was fantastic. I waited until the last minute to book my flights and hotel, since there is always a chance that launches can be delayed for technical or weather issues. Fortunately, this launch was right on schedule.
SpaceX CRS-15 NASA Social
We had a full day of guest speakers and behind the scenes tours the day before the launch. We learned about many of the research projects that were on board and ready to head up to the astronauts at the International Space Station.
Visiting the Veggie Lab was one of my favorites. They are working on developing ways for astronauts to grow food in space, since that will be necessary for long term extended space travel.
However, the highlight of that first day was when we stopped just outside Launch Complex 40 at the end of the day. The Falcon 9 was in position on the launch pad, and it was being prepared to be raised to an upright position. It was an emotional moment to take it all in and know that it would be launched soon.
On launch day, we headed out to the NASA Causeway before dawn, so that we would be ready for the launch. We had a perfect view of the rocket across the water. It was a truly amazing experience and I'm honored to have been able to witness it in person.
After the launch, we spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and I also visited a space memorial nearby in Titusville.