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Residents and visitors gather at Surf Beach to watch missile launch

Event took on emotional meaning for one resident

Residents and visitors gather at Surf...

SURF BEACH, Calif. - People gathered at Surf Beach west of Lompoc Tuesday to witness the ground-based interceptor missile launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

That missile ended up launching around 12:30 Tuesday afternoon and there was a good-sized crowd out at Surf Beach to check it out--including one man who said this was on his bucket list. 

Tuesday afternoon's ground-based interceptor missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base drew Tim Spence miles away from home.

"So I'm a San Francisco guy, actually I'm from LA but I live in San Francisco now," spectator Tim Spence said. 

The out-of-towner was as excited as could be before the afternoon launch as he watched with a handful of other people at the Surf beach train stop.

"So you know, bucket list thing, watching something going off, I've never watched a rocket launch, so that's why I'm here," Spence said. 

There was a 12 to 4 p.m. window the missile could be launched, which only raised Spence's anticipation. 

"Growing up when space was really something--I mean I'm of that era when I was a kid and astronauts and heroes and all that stuff, moon landings," Spence said.  

Then, around 12:30 p.m., Spence's long-awaited moment came.

But with the overcast weather, it's safe to say this launch wasn't exactly what Spence was hoping for.

"Well it was kind of like a fart during a hurricane," Spence colorfully described the launch. 

Spence said he heard the missile more than he saw it. But for Dean Kruse and his mother, these launches mean just a little bit more to them. 

"Gets a little emotional sometimes actually," spectator Dean Kruse said. "Yeah you know my dad worked out here at Vandenberg for 45, 46 years and sadly he passed away in June so I've got a new appreciation...sort of took it for granted what he was doing out here all those years."

Dean said there's more of a reason to be out here now for these launches. 

"Most definitely, absolutely I'll probably catch all the rest of them that I can here," Kruse said. 

"I was just hoping to see something...and I didn't...so we'll be back," Spence said.  

Spence said watching a missile launch is still on his bucket list. He plans on traveling down here again to check one out.


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