ABC News On Campus reporter Miles Doran blogs: It’s Friday night and you’re in college. What are you going to do?
For a group of eight students at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the answer on this Friday night was: let’s go watch our first space shuttle launch.
The drive from Gainesville to Titusville would normally take about three hours. Turns out, these eight students weren’t the only ones who wanted to see Endeavour and her crew of seven light up the night sky.
Several of them spent four-and-a-half hours in 20-year-old Tyler Ausdemore’s silver 2006 Scion tc – 20 minutes of that time was spent just trying to get through a toll booth.
Tyler said he was worried they wouldn’t make it in time for the 7:55 p.m. launch.
Finally, they found a parking spot behind a condo complex in Titusville, 15 miles away from the Kennedy Space Center. But now they needed a viewing spot. The shuttle was just a couple minutes from blasting off and the clock was ticking. They had to run. Fast.
They jumped out of the car and jogged across the street to Space View Park, where a large crowd had gathered – like they always do – to watch the launch. Their view was blocked.
But UF junior Hannah Choi was not going to let a few bodies get in the way of seeing her first shuttle launch.
“I stepped on a couple people but I figured it would be worth it,” she said.
She elbowed her way through the crowd and made it to the edge of the park, right by the water, just in time to see Endeavour lift off in front of a full moon.
“It was like the sun coming out!” she said.
“It was a jaw-dropping experience,” said her friend, 20-year-old Rosie Rodriguez.
Was the drive worth it? Yes, they all said.
But now it’s time for a late-night drive back to Gainesville. There’s a football game tomorrow they don’t want to miss.