Shuttle Launch Blues

Are they ever going to get that rocket off the pad?!  I admit it: I’m exasperated by this interminable wait for the latest shuttle to launch out of the Cape.  I know there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance because of the high profile political connections to shuttle crew members.  I know people are excited and interested because there are so few launches left.  But for goodness sakes, can it just leave the realm of gravity and let me get back to my wilderness adventures already?!

I know, I know.  I’m acting perhaps strangely candid and even, ahem, selfish.  Yet there is a reason I want the launch attempts to end.  Every scheduled takeoff brings with it thousands of tourists from around the southeast and Florida.  And with them comes an avalanche of trash.  As they park on the road sides and on the beaches of the lagoon (illegally I might mention) they suck down sodas and munch on potato chips and gleefully tune into the radio station countdown.  

Ten.. nine.. eight.. seven.. six.. oh wait, nevermind.  Scrub the launch! Time to leave! Let’s beat the traffic! No, no, there’s no time to find a trash can! Just CHUCK IT!

I’m not above sodas and I do like my crunchy salty snacks, but I’m so weary of picking up bucket after bucket of discards from Kodak moments that never were.  Why won’t people just pick up their trash??  The wind-blown and current-moved trash flowing into the lagoon and our oceans I can almost understand.  But to simply drop your cigarette butt directly onto the mangrove seedlings and crush them while you stamp it out just.. hurts a part of my soul. And the thrown nearly-full 44oz soda in a plastic cup complete with plastic straw and plastic lid that lands in the water? I have no words.

Why must we share our planet with humans who are surrounded by beautiful subtropical landscapes that beg to be safeguarded and conserved and yet manage to ignore all of its treasures and charms?  I know it’s just a big smelly dark expanse of water to some. But there are still manatees and dolphins and sea turtles in them thar’ hilly waves.. and I intend to start making a bigger fuss at these launch watches about the trash people leave behind in the wake of their Priuses and Escalades alike.

Where to start?  Perhaps the local paper.  There’s a few days left before the next launch attempt.  What do you think, does an Op-Ed on marine debris have a chance at changing some minds?

Let’s end this (slight) tirade on a positive and say: YES!

UPDATE: The New York Times has a short slideshow on Titusville and the affected space community centered here. I’m annoyed they called the Indian River Lagoon the Indian River “Estuary”, but at least it wasn’t just left as a “river”. Can’t have it all.