'World's largest tailgate party' expected at Endeavour's final launch
Space shuttle Endeavour will launch on its final mission Friday.
April 27th, 2011
02:21 PM ET

'World's largest tailgate party' expected at Endeavour's final launch

There could be as many as 700,000 people gathered to witness space shuttle Endeavour's final mission in Central Florida on Friday afternoon.

"I'm thinking this is like the world's largest tailgate party," said Rob Varley, the executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism.

The launch will come at 3:47 p.m. ET.

Crowds are already pouring into the beachside towns surrounding the Kennedy Space Center, Varley said. Tickets for specialized tours of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex are sold out, but general tours are still available.

One of the most high-profile spectators will be U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wife of Endeavour commander Mark Kelly. Giffords is recovering from a gunshot to her head after a man attacked her and killed several others at a January political event in Arizona. She departed a Houston, Texas, rehabilitation facility Wednesday on her way to Florida.

President Obama is also expected to attend the launch.

By comparison, February's launch of the shuttle Discovery on its final mission drew about 450,000 spectators.

Anyone still toying with the idea of traveling to the area to see the event should know roadways will be crowded. Come and camp out early, Varley suggested.

Though Friday will mark the last time Endeavor flies, there will be one more shuttle flight scheduled before the program ends this summer.

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Filed under: Shuttle • Space
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. raven

    Member when Kirk did that green lady ? hope Bones checked him out when he got back to the ship !

    April 27, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mad Hatter

    Ole lady didn't survive the heart attack. Services were held this evening.

    April 27, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BRYAN

    CNN... do me a favor, get your info straight on Florida... Cape Canaveral is not in central Florida, it is on the east coast, on the atlantic ocean... central florida is Orlando area... shuttle blasting off from Disney? you've named Tampa for the police shootings when the article was about St Petersburg... Rays games are called in Tampa, when they are in St Petersburg... you have even got our capital wrong, Tallahassee is in north FL, not in central...

    April 28, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    @Mmmmm: shut up. You too, BRYAN!

    April 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tol Trunks

    What are they sending the shuttle in space to explore? The earth and sun is all there is. 2-3-2012.

    April 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. angela

    @canadian genuis. Your r 100 percent coorect because u live in tampa floridafk

    April 29, 2011 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Denise

    The Space Shuttle Endeavour was set to liftoff this afternoon, but the first launch attempt for April 29th mission (STS-134) was scrubbed due to a technical issue.http://bit.ly/jysGYO

    April 30, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. Butch

    Touhdwcon! That's a really cool way of putting it!

    June 19, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
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    February 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
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