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Space shuttle Atlantis is seen as it launches from pad 39A on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch of Atlantis, STS-135, is the final flight of the shuttle program, a 12-day mission to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Day 74: We Have Lift Off!

Headed over to the Space Centre first thing and queued up LIKE A BIG NERD for a ticket to view the shuttle launch. These special tickets are usually like golddust, but because the shuttle had been delayed so long (I know how it feels!)I got one!


Spent the day pottering about the Space Centre fearing that the shuttle would be cancelled again, but when the news came through at 2pm that it had been successfully fuelled I began to get rather excited. I may have done a little nerdy dance in the Hubble Space Telescope exhibit.

By 5pm I was on a bus heading for the Space Centre Causeway.

I plonked myself down on the grass behind the yellow rope (like that’s going to protect us!) and set up my camcorder… finally, something was going right for a change! I got chatting with a lovely couple called Judy and John from Phoenix, Arizona, who were watching the big event with their two kids. There are only going to be seven more shuttle launches after this one, before NASA scraps the programme in favour of Ares (the mission to return to the moon and then press on to MARS!) and it was the last of the night-launches, so it was going to be pretty special, no matter what.

At 19.34, there was the BIGGEST explosion I had ever seen with my own eyes. The ground shook and the shuttle blasted off. The sun had just fallen below the horizon, so we got the benefit of viewing a night launch, but when the rocket got high enough, the exhaust plume was lit up by the multi-coloured rays of the evening sun – it looked unreal.

It was so cool.

Judy and John offered to give me a lift back to the bus station in Orlando – only 33 miles away. There where that many people watching the launch (by the looks of it, half of Florida) that the journey took four hours. Thank Zeus for Judy and John, otherwise I would have been stuck in Titusville for another night.

So I made the 1:30am bus back to Miami, and my little Odyssey detour came to a close.

I saw a rocket blast into space! Yeah!!!

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. anon

    You frickin well better post that video, you lucky bastard.

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