When we toured Cape Canaveral earlier this month, our tour guide mentioned the launch of Themis and how we could contact our senator to try and get VIP tickets.  We didn’t think we would be here that long, but as we got closer to the launch date and realized we were still going to be in Florida, we decided to give it a try.  I talked to Mark Pendleton at Senator Elizabeth Dole’s office. He wasn’t aware of any VIP tickets nor was he sure how to go about finding out, but he promised to check into it and let us know.  We figured that was the end of it, but he called me the next day with all the information. Mark called on the 13th and said we had the VIP tickets to the launch and also tickets to a cocktail reception where we could mingle with all the people who had built, designed, and were responsible for the launch. 

The night before the launch we feasted on jumbo shrimp, free drinks and appetizers while we mingled with the engineers and scientists from Berkeley. This was actually interesting. You could feel their excitement and nervousness as Themis was originally supposed to have launched in October 2006 but was cancelled due to workmanship problems. There was a lot riding on the launch the next day.

The launch itself was amazing.  They took us on a bus from the main center to the launch site.  It was windy and cold (of course), but they had a tent set up for us, free drinks and hamburgers and hotdogs for a dollar.  We endured the wind and cold for about and hour.  Then six minutes before launch it was called off due to high wind.  It was rescheduled for the next day.  The next day, we again drove to Cape Canaveral, got on the bus to the launch site, again had hamburgers and drinks, AGAIN it was cold but less windy.  This time we had a launch.  It was amazing.  As the rocket goes up, these 6 fuel tanks burned through their fuel and then dropped off where presumably they would land harmlessly in the ocean.   The very ocean we would be crossing to the Bahamas.  I am sure the odds of being on a sailboat and being hit by falling fuel tanks is miniscule, but still, they do land somewhere.   If you are ever in Florida and have a chance to see a launch it is well worth it.  And do call your senator for tickets.  We are very grateful Mark Pendleton for really helping us out.  It is something none of us will forget.