Isaac and I started watching rocket launches on YouTube when he was about 1. Isaac could count backwards from 10 before he could count forwards.
I knew he loved watching the videos, what would would he think of a rocket launch IRL? So I bought some tickets to watch the Falcon Heavy launch from the Kennedy Space center.
This post is my way of preserving this memory for Isaac.
On our way
The first fun thing was flying. Isaac is maybe a little jaded about flying for a three year-old, he's kind of a frequent flyer.
At this point I think Isaac was still more excited about swimming in the hotel pool than the rocket launch. Hotel pools are admittedly pretty fun.
The next day we woke up and headed to the Space Center. I wasn't sure when to get there, I knew traffic would be bad, so even though it was 15 minutes away without traffic we left 3 hours early ... and barely made it in before the launch window.
"Wow! I love it"
We finally arrived at the Space Center. As soon as we got in Isaac saw all the rockets and said, "Wow, I love it!"
It turned out we had plenty of time to kill so we checked out a bunch of the rockets and spaceships.
We bought some snacks before we left, I left it up to Isaac to choose and he grabbed like 15 nut butter Clif bars.
The rocket launch kept getting delayed, but Isaac was having so much fun at the center he barely noticed. We saw the new Mars rover, built some rockets with Legos and even met a person in a real space suit that Isaac thought was an astronaut.
Isaac really loved the space shuttle rockets. Honestly I was blown away by how big they are. Isaac told me he was going to "fire the rockets" with a stick he had that he was pretending was on fire. I snagged a picture of him lighting the rockets.
Behind the rockets is a building, we were still killing time so we went in to check it out. They showed us a movie about the history of the shuttle program and then we went into a special theater with an immersive experience of a shuttle launch. Isaac thought he was actually in space and loved it.
At the end of the movie they lifted up the screen and behind the screen we saw:
I actually had no idea the real Atlantis was there so it was a fun surprise.
Almost immediately after the shuttle movie finished we heard that the launch was definitely happening in about 10 minutes. So we hustled outside and tried to guess a good spot for watching.
Finally the rocket launched. I was having too much fun watching the rocket and Isaac's reaction to the rocket to snap many photos. I did get a quick selfie and I love the look on Isaac's face.
The rocket was brighter than I expected. It was basically like a small spot in the sky that was as bright the sun, I had to turn my eyes away a few times. We were about 7 miles away but the sound of the rocket was still pretty overwhelming. I had no idea what to expect and not a single person was wearing hearing protection, so I think it was fine.
The other surprise was how it seems to almost hover at a certain point, almost like it might not make it. I'm not sure if that's just an illusion, maybe it's changing its trajectory away from us at that moment. But it added even more tension to the moment.
The best part was far and away when the Falcon 9 boosters came back. They plummet like stones and at the last second fire their rocket engine and land perfectly vertical. We saw all of that except the very last part on the pad, that was blocked by some trees. Then immediately after it landed the sonic booms reached us. "BOOM BOOM, BOOM BOOM". This was definitely Isaac's favorite part.
This is far and away the best video I've seen that captures how fast these things come in.
Still more to do
After the launch Isaac was not ready to leave. He wanted to go back and play with some of the stuff at the shuttle exhibit that we had to skip to catch the launch.
He played space pilot in the Atlantis cockpit mockup for about an hour.
Leaving the Space Center
We finally headed out. It cracked me up that even after watching a rocket Isaac was still interested in something like this big rotating ball sculpture.
The traffic was worse on the way home. Blah. And Isaac was wiped.
The next day had some breakfast and swam at the hotel pool. Isaac told everyone all about the rocket launch everywhere we went.
We each got a souvenir, Isaac picked this SR-71 toy which made me so happy. I've always loved this jet for as long as I can remember. We also bought some astronaut ice cream that Isaac plans to share with his cousins soon.
And that was it! It was totally awesome and I hope Isaac can remember it when he gets older!