Sunday night was one of the most interestingly spent nights I've ever had. We arrived in Titusville, FL at about 5:00 pm and set up camp right on the edge of the water. Seriously, there was this little ledge about five feet wide that dropped straight off to the water, and we set up there. Front row seats, but rather precarious front row seats! People were already showing up to stake out spots to see the shuttle launch the next morning, so we didn't dare move lest someone steal our spot. So... it's kind of interesting to spend the night in such a situation, but it was all right--until someone warned us about crocodiles. Yeah, I didn't get much sleep, but it was fun anyway. When it got dark the launch pad 39A flodded the sky with lights, and the anticipation of the coming launch filled the spectators with alacrity. It was such a clear night, and I spent most of the time gazing up at the stars and other astronomical objects. There was a chilly breeze coming off the ocean, and every now and then some sort of fish would splash around below us sending a jolt through us (those of us paranoid of crocodiles).
Finally morning began to dawn. NASA was counting down. The International Space Station could be seen streaking across the sky, passing by the moon, before the Shuttle launched. Everybody cheered whenever the countdown was announced. Every minute seemed like five.
Main engine start... Liftoff for STS-131!
The bright glowing ball rises into the sky. Nearly a minute later the sound thuds against your chest. A minute after that the boosters separate. At some point it almost looks as if Discovery is coming back to Earth, but of course it's not. It's going over the edge of the horizon, and it is lost from view. Awesome!