KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida — While weather ultimately scrapped SpaceX’s historic manned launch Wednesday, a lesser-known hazard threatened the effort before storms moved in: an alligator, and none other than Frank Robb was called to clear it out.
“I think he wanted to go for a space flight personally. A gator in space is something we are missing,” Robb joked Wednesday.
Robb is known to Chicagoans as the alligator whisperer who caught “Chance the Snapper” when he was loose in the Humboldt Park Lagoon.
But in his day job, Robb catches alligators who find their way onto NASA property near the Kennedy Space Center for use in medical research.
“There are gators that end up in the craziest places,” Robb said. “They still have the ponds on the pad that they use to cool the pads off… those are natural ponds in that secure area that gators end up in all the time.“
As space launch preparations were in full swing, an alligator was parking himself on launch pad 39-A, where the SpaceX Demo 2 was supposed to blast off from Wednesday afternoon.
So Robb got the call.
“He had walked in the security gate and was just taking a stroll,” Robb said. “I put a rope on him, caught him and he loaded up in the truck pretty easy.”
Frank was at the launch Wednesday afternoon, and despite the weather delay he says the energy around Kennedy Space Center was incredible.
“We have been waiting a decade in this country for a manned launch,” Robb said.