The original thing to do was actually to see the Shuttle launch which depending on how close you have to be means either you can count me or not.
I lived in Florida on the east coast exactly a few hundred miles from where the shuttles would launch. On a good day, if you knew exactly when it was launching and exactly where to look, you could just barely see it launch. So really that wasn’t that much of a challenge although I always did want to see it in person much closer. Unfortunately with the demise of the Shuttle program (RIP), I never did get to see the shuttle launch up close.
I was near KSC however, when the GLAST launched in 2008. I was filming a space related TV show and because we were space related we stopped filming and all went out to the beach in order to watch the launch. It was delayed several times and we kept looking for someone on the radio so we could hear any news. My daughter was so not into the launch and just was too busy being fascinated by the beach. I just don’t get it.
Now I also saw a shuttle land and that had a bigger effect on me. It was the first and so far only time I was at KSC and that was only because I was pregnant and my family forgot I could not do all the rides at Disney so they were good enough to FINALLY take me to KSC. We had heard there was a shuttle up, but didn’t think much of it after all shuttles were most likely to land out in California. However, we were at the area closest to the landing site when we heard an announcement over the loud speaker that they were expecting the shuttle to try to make a landing attempt but the skies were not looking good at the normal location and they were hoping to land at KSC! My partner, mother and grandmother and I were like “What??” The announcer also told us that everyone in this building were at literally the closest we could possibly be and if it lands at KSC we would have the best possible view of anyone at KSC. When they said the shuttle was making it’s descent, we all rushed outside. My grandmother went as far as the pavement went (she was in a wheelchair because she could not walk) and I was nearly at the fence. We just waited and waited and many false sightings later the Space Shuttle Endeavour came into view and landed right in front of us! My grandmother was crying and I asked why and she said it was because they were safe. I told her we have not lost a landing yet. The next landing was the Columbia accident. I think I jinxed it. 😦
Did you ever get to see a launch or landing?
Completed: 2009 (close launch) and 2002 (landing)