Yesterday, the Juno spacecraft was launched via a Atlas V rocket from Kennedy Space Center. We are lucky enough to live about 3o minutes south of the KSC and get to view launches as often as they have them from our back yard (weather/clouds permitting, of course). Ever since A was a baby, I have tried my hardest to make sure the kids got to see as many launches as possible by either taking them to the beach or as close to as possible, or calling and reminding them of launches if they weren’t with me. In the past 6 years, we have lived on the river, so we avoid the insane traffic and either watch it in our back yard or walk down to our park and watch from there. The kids always love it and I like the neat little tradition of it all, besides instilling curiosity for space travel and exploration, the dialog that comes out of most launches is great!

This launch was the spacecraft Juno, whose main mission is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, and though not manned, was still as exciting as the past shuttle launches we have watched. The negative thing about living so close is sometimes a few important launches go by that we don’t follow so closely but still want to see, but just kinda … forget about until 4 minutes later when we hear the rumble reach us. That has happened at least 3 times in the past 6 years. We plan to go watch it, then get caught up in something else and just remember too late, but at least get to see the vapor trail most of the time 🙂

Juno info:

Mission Timeline

  • Launch – August 2011
  • Earth flyby gravity assist – October 2013
  • Jupiter arrival – July 2016
  • End of mission (deorbit) – October 2017

The Juno mission is the second spacecraft designed under NASA’s New Frontiers Program. The first was the Pluto New Horizons mission, launched in January 2006 and scheduled to reach Pluto’s moon Charon in 2015. The program provides opportunities to carry out several medium-class missions identified as top priority objectives in the Decadal Solar System Exploration Survey, conducted by the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council in Washington.

(I got to shoot the Pluto launch from the press site of Kennedy Space Center for the paper I was working for. That was amazing.)

This launch, as most, had several delays, but because it was slow clear out, I wasn’t thinking of delays and just gathered up the kids and headed out to the dock without checking the TV. Rookie move. Because launch time was 11:35, it was already prime into Florida August Humid Hot Mess. With four kids who all have a million things to do and expecting a launch NOW, sitting in the heat didn’t go over well, especially an extra 50 minutes it took to launch. Thankful for a quick run for drink/ice and handheld games, they survived. Whew! 😉

Click for bigger view of picture


And more exciting news, I was selected to be part of the NASA Tweetup (only 125 people allowed) for the GRAIL launch in September, so stay tuned on a post on that. So far the date for the GRAIL launch is 8:37 AM Sept 8th. CAN’T WAIT!