I managed to see the launch of Voyager
2 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida on August 20, 1977. I had
a good view of it from Jetty Park as it left Earth forever. For
the next 12 years, I fretted over Voyager 2 as though it was
my own child, as it braved the perils of the unknown. The mission
was a triumph of space exploration that will be hard to duplicate
- one spacecraft used three gravity assists to swing past Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus and Neptune thanks to a planetary alignment that
only ocurrs once every 175 years. Thanks to that lucky break,
Voyager 2 was able to become the first to visit both Uranus and
Neptune. It then continued flying out of the solar system at
38,000 mph and will continue forever, presumably.
The local newspaper reported the
next day that only 300 people were at Jetty Park to see the launch.
That's not very many considering that a Grand Tour like that
would occur only once in history. The experience of watching
Voyager 2 rise up off the Earth heading for infinity was one
of the greatest moments of my life.