Watching a Rocket Launch

Wednesday April 18th 2018

The wind was out of the southeast today. That equates to a much warmer day. The high temperature was in the mid eighties. Overall it was a beautiful day. I got a little further south down the beach on my morning walk, but the tide wasn’t cooperating. The amount of available packed sand that it is easy to walk on was very narrow near high tide. When the surf forced me into the seaweed and soft sand I turned around.

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I took pictures of the feathered beach walkers this morning.

The big event today was the Space X Falcon 9 rocket launch this evening. People started arriving at the beach parking lot around noon. By launch time the lots were packed. Interest in launches seems to have had a resurgence. I’ve seen several launches over the years. In the early 90s I saw a space shuttle launch and this decade I’ve seen three or four. The last time I was at this campground in November of 2016 I saw a launch. It was nowhere near as well attended. Today’s crowd reminded me of the crowd I was part of for the Space Shuttle launch.

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Some of the cars in the parking lot for the launch. The Orlando TV station was also on site with a camera set up.

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Watching a Kite Boarder while waiting for the launch.

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This ship that had been docked at the submarine dock headed out to sea just before the launch.

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I’m not sure what to call this board on wheels with a sail. The guy was really moving fast along the wet sand.

My vantage point for the launch was on one of the boardwalks out to the beach. I wasn’t sure exactly where the launch site was located in relation to the location, so I picked a spot that had a very large field of view to the north. It actually turned out to further inland than I expected. I started taking pictures as soon as I spotted the fireball heading into the sky. By the time the sound of the rocket launch reached me I had already taken several pictures. It was a very clear late afternoon so it was possible to watch the assent for a long ways. The trajectory brought it south and east after the launch making it necessary to look almost straight up to see the last view before it was too small to be visible.

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A picture of the booster at maximum zoom and heavily cropped.

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Booster with some vapor trail.

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All that was left a couple of minutes after lift off.

I hoped to see the booster return to land on the drown ship at sea, but it must have been too far over the horizon. Space X announced on Twitter that the booster successfully landed while I was still hopefully watching for some sign of the booster. The videos I’ve seen of past booster landings have been spectacular. I’ll keep watch to see if I can catch a view of the booster when it returns to port.

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People walking back south on the beach after the launch.

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