Five Amazing Launches
Five Amazing Launches
Let the countdown begin!
Launches are great. Everyone loves a good launch. There is something fantastically dramatic about a launch. In fact, word has it that there is going to be a pretty epic launch occurring around these parts in the very near future, but maybe that’s just hearsay.
In any case, you might think that launches are an odd topic for a travel website. But if we consider travel in its literal form – that is, physical movement from one place to another – it’s difficult to imagine a more exciting way of beginning that movement than with some sort of launch.
In this article we have plucked five of the best launches of all time from around the world, so fasten your seatbelts and sit tight, for the countdown has begun…
Deptford, London, UK
Although this district in southeast London no doubt has its perks, it would be fair to say that nowadays the words ‘Deptford’ and ‘delightful’ are rarely seen together in the same sentence. But it wasn’t always this way. Rub away at that patina and you’ll find a history of solid gold. We are talking, specifically, about the (now decrepit) Deptford Docks, and even more specifically about HMS Endeavour, which was launched there in 1768 after being refitted for one Captain James Cook in preparation for his first Voyage of Discovery.
It would be a journey of monumental historical significance and, ultimately, one that would pave the way for the round-the-world trips that are so common-place today. A breviloquent version of his three-year itinerary follows. (It should be noted he made most of it up as he went along – literally.)
From London, south past the Canary and Cape Verde islands. West across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro. South and then west across the Pacific to New Zealand. Northwest, skirting (and naming) the Whitsundays on the east coast of Australia, then west past Indonesia, southwest across the Indian Ocean, past South Africa’s Cape Town, then north to the UK.
Merritt Island, Florida, USA
The 1969 launch of Apollo 11, from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, not far from Orlando, was immensely important for all sorts of reasons. The obvious one is that it was the first spaceflight that would take humans to the Moon, opening up a new era of exploration; we had stopped squinting at horizons and were now staring wide-eyed at the skies.
But in a wider context, it epitomised the staggering technological and industrial advancement we had made and would continue to make. It is, frankly, bamboozling to consider that a mere 200 years after Captain James Cook was bobbing about somewhere near New Zealand (or ‘Land ahoy – thank **** for that!’ as it was possibly then known), a man called Neil Armstrong would be uttering the words: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The launch of Apollo 11 was a tough one to follow; it would take something extraordinary to top it.
That something would come during the 1988 Winter Olympics, hosted by the city of Calgary in Alberta . These Games would become legendary for two reasons. Firstly, Jamaica – that tropical island-nation in the heart of the Caribbean – entered a bobsled team. Initial sniggers soon became hushed respect, which in time became the inspiration for the film Cool Runnings. Secondly, an Englishman called Eddie Edwards entered the ski jumping competition on behalf of Great Britain, who until that point had been stifled in an avalanche of mediocrity.
Eddie was an unlikely candidate for ski jumping. He was too heavy, wore ill-fitting equipment, was extraordinarily far-sighted – meaning he had to constantly wear glasses, which would often fog-up to the point of opaqueness – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, was absolutely terrified of his own sport.
Regardless, he stepped up. He flew down the ramp to the sound of a roaring crowd, catapulted off the end, soared through the Canadian sky and into our hearts and minds. Higher and higher, faster and faster he went, before landing in… *ahem*…last place. But it’s the hearts and minds bit that counts.
He is a true British hero.
Technology advances at a bewildering rate. By the time you’ve finished reading this sentence every gadget you own will basically be a fossil; the article itself will be about as topical as the Old Testament. (Okay, a slight exaggeration, but you get the drift.)
Is it just this writer, or does it not seem more than a week ago that the first camera phones were being solemnly wielded by the cool kids to seas of misted eyes and lax jaws? It was proof that there was life beyond Snake 2 – and an exciting time it was indeed.
And then, in 2007, the Apple iPhone was launched, and it changed everything, right down to the noun; a phone was no longer just a phone, it was now a smartphone. The iPhone and its descendants – essentially pocket-sized computers – have been revolutionary, and for this reason it is arguably the most important product of the 21st Century to date.
And the last of our five amazing launches? Well, you’ll just have to wait another few days for that one – it will be coming very soon…
…to a screen near you!
(In fact, it's quite possible it's already happened. Enjoy the new site!)
Main image: Justina Cesnauskaite
Higher and higher, faster and faster he went, before landing in… *ahem*…last place
By Themes (All Destinations)
- Central America
- Middle East
- North America
- South America
"Not all those who wander are lost" - J. R. R. Tolkien