Space View Park Perfect To See Atlantis Launch

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After 30 years of space shuttle takeoffs, crowds are gathered at Space View Park in Titusville, Fla., to see the final launch of Atlantis.


And let's bring another voice into the conversation. NPR's Greg Allen is in Titusville, Florida where he's found, we're told, a prime spot to view the show if there is a show.

Greg, what are you seeing?

GREG ALLEN: Well, anywhere around here is a prime spot, Steve. We're very close to the launch pad. Titusville is just across the sound. Fifty miles sounds like a lot to a lot of people. But we can see the pad, as Nell described it, very clearly from over here, lit up. And there's a lot of anticipation here.

I'm in downtown Titusville, a place called Space View Park. You can see why they call it that. And we're here to watch to see if this launch is going to go off. There's a lot of people from all over here, from all over the U.S. here today.

MONTAGNE: And Greg, you've been talking to those people, of course. Tell us what they're saying to you.

ALLEN: Well, it's - you know, it's funny. So many people I've talked to have driven straight through. I talked to a family from Indiana who drove 17 hours and arrived last night at 1:00 in the morning. And they were chagrined that they got here a little late. There were people who got here yesterday afternoon and the prime spots, of course, have long since been taken. But as I say, if you're anywhere along here, you'll be able to see, seaside(ph).

I talked to a family who came down from Boston who were here for the first launch 30 years ago, when they were college students. They came back today to watch the final launch. And they were various excited as well.

INSKEEP: I want to ask, Greg Allen, these people who've driven all night to get there, have they already made plans that if the shuttle launch gets delayed for a day, or two days, they're just going to camp right where they are and wait?

ALLEN: I think that's definitely the case, Steve. People I talked to were -when I brought that possibility up, they said, well, we hope it goes off. If it doesn't, we're going to be here through the weekend. And once you have the spot staked out here, I don't think too many people are going to walk away and leave it, 'cause someone else will take it, getting prepared for another launch, you know, as early as tomorrow or Sunday.

It gets delayed, then people say said they might have to make plans about coming back. But there's a lot of excitement here. I think everybody wants to be here for the last one.

INSKEEP: Well, let's get an update 'cause maybe you can pass it on to the folks there, Greg Allen, of what the weather conditions need to be in order for this shuttle to go off.

NPR's Joe Palca is with us in our studios in Washington.

Joe, it looks like a beautiful morning is beginning to dawn, about to dawn in Florida. But the weather immediately at Cape Kennedy is not the only factor here.

JOE PALCA: Well, actually, what they're expecting is as the day heats up, the weather - the wind direction is going to shift and push some of that moisture over the Cape. So that's been the concern all along long. But yes, they also have to have clear whether at some of the abort landing sites, and also the once-around landing sites if they land out at Edwards or White Sands. The news from those spots are all good. It's all clear for today.

MONTAGNE: And of course - thank you, Joe.

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