Mental Floss

Space Shuttle Parking Lot

Ransom Riggs

There are few spectacles that can compare to the awe-inspiring power of a space shuttle launch. Fans of launches are called Rocket Jockeys, and they're lining up in droves and coming from far and wide to see the last few manned space shuttle launches that have been planned. Inspired by cult documentaries like Heavy Metal Parking Lot, which consist mainly of hanging out with tailgating superfans,'s documentary Space Shuttle Parking Lot captures the unquenchable enthusiasm of space geeks during the last planned night launch, which took place a few months ago.

We covered some of the preparations at NASA, but our main focus was on the excitement of the fans who had come from far and wide for a grueling space shuttle tailgate. The long wait, cold weather, and even a 24-hour delay be damned. To the masses who had assembled around campfires, on lawn chairs, behind cameras, the event was unmissable not just for the unparalleled sight and sound of a shuttle interrupting the placid dark of a Florida night. This, the fifth-to-the-last shuttle launch, was another bittersweet milestone in the potential close of America's manned space era, an epic story that began with the heady experiments of the Space Race and extended well into the future, towards the dream of moon bases and Martian colonies.