Against the backdrop of the Guadalupe Mountains, people traveled from every corner of Texas just to catch a glimpse of Blue Origin’s first human launch to space.
In the small community of Van Horn, banners, murals and signs welcomed visitors and journalists from across the country.
Despite state troopers shutting down the highway near the launch site, by sunrise Tuesday cars, trucks, and RVs lined Highway 54 north of Van Horn, as people tried to get as close as possible.
A life-long space enthusiast, who dreamed of being an astronaut, Monique Caceres drove from Houston with her boys.
“Just to be as close as we can,” Caceres said. “We didn’t know what we [would] see and this was really cool.”
Life Around Van Horn, Texas
James Pacheco said he couldn’t miss something like this happening in his ‘backyard.’
He drove in overnight from El Paso.
“It’s one thing to read about it – I’m a life-long space nut, but to actually see it in person – it’s completely something else,” Pacheco said.
For James Radcliffe of Dallas, it was a bucket list moment.
“I’d been wanting to see a rocket launch since the 60s when I was kid,” Radcliffe said. “I think being close to events like this is important, anybody can watch it on TV and get a better view, but being there and taking your own pictures, videos. That’s the cool part and just saying I was there.”
From the highway, there was cheering and celebration upon seeing the first fiery glow of the rocket launching off into space. The roar of the rocket could be heard long after it was out of sight.
Two sonic booms caught some by surprise.
Applause erupted again when the parachute was first spotted bringing the capsule and its four-person crew back to earth.
Sharing the moment with her children made Caceres emotional.
“That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Caceres said. “That just makes you realize – never give up on your dreams.”
For many parked there along the highway it was a moment of hope.
“Despite all the bad things that happen out in the world, ya know, that’s just a sign that we can come together as a species as one,” Pacheco said.