Crowds gather, hope to see final shuttle launch

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Friday, July 8, 2011

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Despite a bleak weather forecast, large crowds have gathered in prime viewing spots near Cape Canaveral for today's scheduled launch of the shuttle Atlantis.

Kenneth Cox from Indiana joined three friends along a nearby river, sleeping on and off as the sun rose. They brought Lucky Charms, ingredients for s'mores, and a bottle of champagne to celebrate the launch. Cox went to Space Camp when he was in the fifth grade, and has been following the shuttle program for as long as he can remember.

His friend Simon Lin says there's a "somber attitude" because it's the last shuttle flight. He works at Disney World, and says the shuttles have "brought so much to the tourist industry in Florida."

Another Disney World employee, Cherie Cabrera, says when you watch a shuttle launch, "feeling it rise and feeling the wind, you feel like you're a part of it."

An Alabama couple traveled to Florida for their third attempt to see a shuttle launch. Twice before, they made the trip only to have the launch canceled. Jennifer Cardwell says it's "the end of an era," and she wanted to experience it -- with her young sons, one of whom is interested in science. She says she "wanted to encourage that."

(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press)

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