TITUSVILLE, Fla. - There are plenty of spots along Florida's Space Coast to watch a launch but perhaps one of the most unique is Space View Park in Titusville.
The park is located less than 15 miles directly across the Indian River from the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center. The view and proximity are certainly a draw but so is the resident volunteer who gives each launch a personal touch.
For the most recent SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch, Ozzie Osband arrives early to set up his computer, speaker and enough water and snacks to get him through two or three delays.
"I'm a space cadet," Osband said as he settled into his folding chair prominently located in the center of a small ampatheater designed for perfect launch viewing. "I just like to watch things go up."
Osband has been watching things go up from this very spot since 1987 when he first moved to the area. When asked how many launches he's seen he said his standard answer is, "Countless. I can either keep track of that sort of thing or sit back and enjoy them. I prefer to enjoy them."
Osband wants every visitor to enjoy them too. As the park begins to fill with tourists Osband fires up his laptop and a conversation about the future of space travel fills the air.
"I'm pretty much the resident DJ," he laughed. "I bring up YouTube or a podcast to keep things busy until it gets close to launch."
Osband plays the part of master of ceremonies for every launch. He answers questions about where to look and provides information about vehicle payload.
"I like to share the knowledge, that's really what I'm here to do," he said. "You have to realize, for most of these people it's a one in a lifetime experience."
Linda Ferenczy and her husband traveled from Ohio to see the SpaceX Falcon Heavy night launch. "Oh it's going to be exciting," she said. 'We found out about it last week and we decided to drive down."
Ferenczy has seen a launch here before and said Osband is the reason she returned. "It's so informative. He passes out pamphlets and he lets everyone know what's happening. We knew he was going to be here so this is where we came."
Titusville Mayor, Walt Johnson, said Osband is a bit of a local celebrity. "He's part of the scenery when it comes to rocket launches," Johnson said. "It's in his heart. He loves space and he loves telling people about it." He continued. "I don't know what we would do without him."
Hours go by and after a long delay the crowd finally experiences what they have been waiting for. The night sky lights up and a deep rumble barely drowns out the cheers from exhausted spectators who have hung on into the early morning hours.
After everyone leaves Osbond will pack his things and reflect on yet another launch experience to remember.
"When people come up to me as they're leaving the park and tell me what it meant to them," Osband continues. "It just makes me feel good."
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