Group of visually impaired veterans to experience Artemis 1 launch in a unique way

Nick Natario Image
Friday, August 26, 2022
A group of vets will experience the Artemis 1 launch in a unique way
A historic launch in Florida will be witnessed nearby and around the world. A group of veterans will be near the launch, but rather than see it, they will be feeling it.

Millions are expected to watch Monday's Artemis 1 launch, but for a group of veterans, it's not about what they'll see, but what they'll feel.

America's next step in space exploration will be taking flight that day. A journey that's extra special to Ed Vrona.

After serving with the Air Force in World War II, Vrona assisted NASA on projects, including Mercury, Apollo and the Hubble Telescope. "I worked with people from NASA since 1959," Vrona recalled.

On Monday, he won't be working, but witnessing.

"The earth will be shaking," Vrona said. "It's 26 feet in diameter!"

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NASA expects 250,000 people to be in Florida to watch Artemis 1 launch. Eddie Tardy will join Vrona.

"I'm excited," Tardy said. "I can't wait to hear, see, and feel what's going to happen."

The Vietnam veteran has never witnessed a launch, but he has an idea of what he's in for.

"I'm a combat veteran," Tardy explained. "I felt the B-52, and if you multiply this 50 times, that is what I'm imagining it's going to be like."

The launch is unique to the vets because they won't view it like others. They're visually impaired, but that doesn't damper their excitement.

"Oh my gosh, I don't know how to explain it," Vrona explained. "Goosepimples on top of goosepimples. I'm careful not to fall or anything so it doesn't mess up my plans."

The group, Wisdom 4 Blinded Veterans, is making it happen. A handful of visually impaired vets will get to be just miles from the launch.

It's a launch that means more than just what they feel.

"I think we have the greatest country in the world," Vrona said. "Yes, we (have) problems, but everyone wants to come to America. Why? Because we are the best."

On Thursday, NASA said the launch is still a-go. Meteorologist from Space Force said there's a 70% chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch's window. It's scheduled to launch around 7:30 a.m. Houston-area time.

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