BRADENTON -- With the final flight of the Space Shuttle, local aficionados described the launch Friday as “overwhelming for everyone” as they watched from a park near Kennedy Space Center.
“Everyone was exuberant, it was overwhelming for everyone,” said Tom Connor, a Parrish resident who watched the launch from Space View Park in Titusville.
The park sits directly across the Indian River from NASA’s Launch Complex 39A, where the final shuttle Atlantis cleared the tower and headed flawlessly into space.
“It was a great show, it was wonderful,” said Connor, 45, a registered nurse who is also a member of the local astronomy group Deep Sky Observers.
The trip to view the final launch was a family affair: Accompanying him was his son, Matthew, 13, and his dad, Michael Connor, 68, who was visiting from Steubenville, Ohio.
“We were high-fiving each other, everyone’s screaming, taking pictures,” Connor said in a cellphone call a few minutes after the launch. Asked how his teen reacted, Connor said, “He knows it was history -- it’s a big historical moment.”
As for his 68-year-old father, Connor reported: “It’s his first one, he really appreciates it.”
The launch drew huge crowds, and the trio said they expected to be sitting in their car for some time after it ended because of a traffic jam created by the crush of observers. Connor described the rumble of the massive rocket as similar to “a large, crackling bonfire,” followed by the sensation of going off on an old wooden roller coaster.
“It vibrates your whole body,” he said. Back in Bradenton, Bishop Planetarium Theater debuted an astronomy show Friday in honor of the shuttle program’s 30 years of technological innovation.
The show, “Space Shuttle: On the Wings of a Dream” is an “immersive 3-D re-creation of Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center,” according to its producer, Troy McClellan, 41, owner of the Tampa company Full Dome FX, Inc.
The Bishop Planetarium is at the South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton.
The planetarium show schedule is on the Internet website at http://www.southfloridamuseum.org/ThePlanetarium/ShowSchedule.aspx; or call (941) 746-4131.