The buzz over SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket launch might have seemed to erupt out of nowhere, but for space enthusiasts, it was a long time coming. I've followed the development of the Falcon Heavy since it was announced in 2011, and I was on the ground at Cape Canaveral to see the launch in person, about three miles away at NASA's press site.
It had gotten to the point where I didn't think the rocket launch would ever happen. After all, the Falcon Heavy was supposed to take flight in the spring of 2016. It turns out, though, that the development of the rocket was much more difficult than anticipated, to the point where Elon Musk admitted to the press that the project was almost canceled three separate times.
And yet, I knew that if and when it did take off, I needed to be there to witness it. I've spent the last year making tentative plans and warning my friends that I might have to cancel at the last minute if the rocket launch date was scheduled. (I, thankfully, have very understanding friends.) I refused to make Thanksgiving or Christmas travel plans in 2017 because of the Falcon Heavy. I have literally scheduled my life around this rocket launch.
Was it worth it? Absolutely, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
The morning of the launch was a bright sunny day, and the always-crucial weather forecast looked favorable. I was optimistic when I arrived at the press site and settled down to work. However, the assembled journalists were soon greeted with unwelcome news: the high-level winds were out of bounds for the launch. Elon Musk had specifically mentioned the wind concern the day before, so we all knew SpaceX was going to be conservative with launch conditions. They quickly delayed the scheduled launch time from 1:30 to 2 PM ET, with a launch window that extended to 4 PM ET.