Watching a liftoff from home

Fort Pierce, FL – Before dawn on Monday, April 5th, I saw the launch of the space shuttle Discovery. Wow! What a sight! A group of us watched from the outdoor walkway on the third floor of our building on the Vero Beach barrier island, some 60 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center. Minutes later we heard the rumble. I've witnessed other launches, but the air was never this clear, nor the sky so black. In the coming months, several more shuttle missions will deliver supplies to the International Space Station, but all those launches are expected to be in daylight. Then the aging shuttle fleet will be retired. What about after that? President Obama came to the Kennedy Space Center last week to describe a new space strategy. NASA would get a bigger budget, but he proposed cancelling the Constellation program to take U.S. astronauts back to the moon. Missions to the space station would be aboard vessels sent up by Russia or two commercial U.S. firms. NASA would focus on long-range goals -- sending astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars by the mid-2030s. Would the president's plan be a net plus or minus for Florida? We'd all like to know. I'd also like to know this: Will I ever be able to watch another pre-dawn liftoff while I'm on the third floor of our building? For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.