One of my favorite things to do is watch a launch.
It's true, I have this fascination with space and there’s history that comes with it. As a boy, in 4th grade, I wrote my own children’s novel called, The First Boy in Space. It’s an archive that hangs on my office wall today. Now living on the Space Coast, I thought, what better place is there to make a documentary, on space, than here (watch now).
The idea, to start, originated from seeing the super fans and sycophants that go and stand on the shoreside at every launch. Observing, as I traveled to beaches and lagoon edges to watch, I was fascinated by the lengths that people would go to participate in the experience. Standing alongside them, I would listen as they pulled out their HAM radios to hear broadcast conversations between the tower and space command. On one occasion, I met an individual who had constructed his own laser-guided tracking system with a camera so powerful you could see the serial numbers on the side of the spacecraft. My jaw dropped, I was inspired by the love and wanted to know more about their stories.
At the same time, this was happening, a friend of mine, NASA Engineer Tim Honeycutt, gave me a unique level of access to see the rollout and launch of Artemis I. At the time, he made it clear that I would need to be willing to stay out late in case there were any delays, but for me, there was no hesitation. I was in.
Day's later I was sitting courtside watching as Artemis I was rolled out and transported to launch complex 39B. Pulling out my Sigma 75 - 200 lens, I was enthralled to be capturing the classic, Star Wars esc, treads of the CT-2 (Crawler Transport 2) that you'll see in the opening shots of the project. The whole experience brought the kid out in me.
Overall, making the project was not easy. After the first all-nighter and the second day-time launch were scrubbed, I began to question if it was worth the sacrifice. It was a nearly 3-hour trek from house to car, car to bus, and bus to Apollo Viewing Center. In addition, we needed to be there several hours before the physical launch and there was no guarantee it'd go. But I loved the adventure of it all, appreciated the common appreciation shared among participants and wasn't about to miss it.
While I was commuting to Cape Canaveral, I also had two of my favorite crew members, Tanner Roberts and Parker Davidson who had agreed to stay up all night to interview random people on the shore, near Titusville. These guys were miles away from 39B, but were still committed to the cause. Walking up to random strangers they worked to capture the lives of people that made this piece special.
Sitting waterside, with Artemis glowing in the distance, the countdown begins. As the time grows close to launching, you listening to you hear stories of individuals who've been watching on TV their entire lives. With tails that cover the course of launches from Mercury to Apollo and the Shuttle till now, we sourced the National Archives to give the piece of history that builds up to the present.
Finally, on November 16th, 2022, Artemis I successfully launched and it was a thrill. The ground shook, while some cried and others yelled out. The emotion of the moment was unforgettable and still resonates with me today.