Sunday, December 9
Saturday I headed to Lompoc, Ca. (150+ miles from home) to watch the launch of a Delta II rocket carrying a satellite into orbit. The launch had been delayed three times since Wednesday. When the launch window fell on Saturday I decided to make the drive and see what I could see. Since i'd be out of contact with the internet while I drove I asked AE (Thank you!) to feed me updates on the launch status in case it was cancelled again. I'd be staring at the sky waiting and waiting.
Arrived at Vandenberg AFB about 10 mins. before launch and asked the guard if there was anywhere to watch. He told me to find somewhere high and look west.
I drove up a hilly road and saw some people parking their cars. Bingo. Got out and watched what I thought was west. I didn't know what to expect. For all I know the launch pad was on the far side of the massive air base and the rocket would have appeared small and sped out of sight quickly
6:30.... less than a minute.
I was not looking West. West is the part of the world that became like daytime when the rocket fired. Almost too bright to look at it rose silently for about 10 seconds before the roar of its engines reached us miles away. Then the sound didn't quit until it got too high and far away.
Its hard to remember everything about it because it literally lasted less than 90 seconds and i was dumbstruck trying to take it all in. I didn't take any video or pictures and immediately regretted it. This will be my excuse to do it again.
I promptly got back in the car and drove 150+ miles back home. By the time I arrived the satellite probably circled the earth twice.
United Launch Alliance