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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Largest in-person audience for a space launch?

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Author Topic:   Largest in-person audience for a space launch?
spacescribe
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Posts: 21
From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Apr 2013

posted 06-08-2013 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacescribe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just wondering how the number of people who traveled to KSC to watch launches has fluctuated over the years, from the Mercury to the shuttles. I seem to recall at its height (Apollo 11) it was in the millions, but am looking for something more accurate than my memory.

spacescribe
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From: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Registered: Apr 2013

posted 06-08-2013 06:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacescribe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can't remember the sources, but here's some stats I found:
  • Gemini - hundreds of thousands
  • Apollo 11 - estimated 1 million
  • Apollo 15 - 100 thousand people on just Route 1

Ken Havekotte
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From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 06-08-2013 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Without checking my notes (they're burried somewhere in my files), it was estimated to be near a million launch observers for Apollo 11 throughout Brevard County of the Florida Space Coast.

I think second, again without checking, may be the final manned lunar landing launch (Apollo 17), which was the only night-time liftoff of a manned space shot until 1983.

Estimated viewers for it in Dec. 1972, if I recall, were less than Apollo 11, but not by too much.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-08-2013 11:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Much of the East Coast could see some of the night launches..does that count?

mach3valkyrie
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From: Albany, Oregon USA
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 06-09-2013 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From listening to Jack King's countdown commentary on Apollo 15... "there is an estimate of more than a million people here to view the launch. The traffic has been heavy since 2 o'clock this morning, the beaches are packed and the roads are packed."

Tom
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Posts: 1275
From: New York
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 06-10-2013 07:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mach3valkyrie:
The traffic has been heavy since 2 o'clock this morning, the beaches are packed and the roads are packed.
That's no lie.

I was a 15 year old space enthusiast that was lucky enough to have witnessed the Apollo 15 launch from just outside Gate 1 of CCAFS.

My dad and I arrived the day before the launch, and there were literally no rental cars available.

We got a ride to the viewing site but we walked back to the hotel in Cocoa Beach. There were so many vehicles on the road that morning, we were honestly "making better time walking back!"

Great memories.

J.L
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From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 06-10-2013 07:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Based on research research for book project, ASTP actually makes it into the top five crowds. A combination of being a summer launch, and the last Apollo to fly.

328KF
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posted 06-10-2013 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was one of the estimated one million on hand to view STS-135. I've seen many shuttle launches but that was the biggest crowd I've seen by far. And that's just based on what I could tell from the Titusville area. The KSC viewing sites had to be overwhelmed.

I always wondered how they do these crowd estimates, but you can see on the NASA website that there were many crowd photos taken from a helicopter so they might use those to do it. I actually found our small group in one of the shots.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-10-2013 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it is important to distinguish between the numbers gathered within the precincts of Kennedy Space Center itself; and the numbers gathered within the general area (including Titusville, Port Canaveral and even Cocoa Beach (provided they were actually watching the launch!). Does KSC not keep a record of the official numbers within its precincts on a launch day?

robsouth
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From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 06-10-2013 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It does interest me to find out if the viewing numbers at the Cape did actually drop significantly for the launch of Apollo 13 or whether that's just a myth that has grown up to build up the impact that the explosion in the SM had on the public interest.

This is highlighted in the film, 'Apollo 13', by having the guys in Mission Control yawning and reaching for the coffee.

There may be some truth in the TV viewing figures being down but was launch day attendance down that much?

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-10-2013 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On Wednesday 16th July, 1975, the day after the Apollo-Soyuz launch, Florida's "Today" newspaper reported that KSC spokesmen "...reported the largest turnout ever for a launch." Officials "...estimated 85,705 persons were on the Center grounds to watch the lift-off."

The same newspaper reported that early predictions of a million people in the area fell short, but added:

"Law enforcement officials out in force to handle the crowds said a last-minute rush of visitors boosted the estimated figure to between 600,000 and 750,000 people."

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 06-10-2013 05:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"On center" (within KSC grounds only) invited launch quests is another category all by itself, as NASA did report those figures that I do have somewhere.

As J.L. posted, again without doing any homework checks, I think the top five manned space shots that had the most launch viewers from within Brevard County would be, in my opinion for now; Apollo 11, 17, 15, 16 and ASTP.

Brevard County would include all of KSC/CCAFS, as far north as Titusville, and far south as Melbourne, with everything in-between such as Rockledge, Cocoa, Merritt Island, Port St. John, Micco, the Cape-town area, Cocoa Beach, Patrick AFB, and just south of the air base to include Satellite Beach and all of the Melbourne/Bch/Palm Bay areas.

Rob Joyner
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From: GA, USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 06-11-2013 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What about STS-95?

Ken Havekotte
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Posts: 1823
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 06-11-2013 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rob, A good question, and also, possibly STS-135! I still don't think we had a million folks here for Glenn's return to orbit, or for the final shuttle launch in 2011 even though it was a summer/July liftoff, but let me check on it. I was thinking more of the moon shots, but I will check it out and thanks.

All times are CT (US)

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