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  Watching a shuttle launch

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Author Topic:   Watching a shuttle launch
webbrass
Member

Posts: 72
From: Charlottesville, Virginia
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 12-17-2003 05:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for webbrass   Click Here to Email webbrass     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok, I've always wanted to see a launch, whether it be a moon shot or a shuttle lauch. My daughter and I have decided that we're going to head to Florida for either the Return to Flight launch or one right after it.

Here's the question:

What's the best way to see a launch?

In looking at the KSC site they talk about places to park along the highway and a bus company that (I think) will take you into KSC for the launch. Are there hotels that have rooms from which you can see the launch?

Since we've got a fair amount of time to plan and this may be a one-shot deal, at least for a while I'd like to do it right. I understand that if they delay or cancel the launch until after I have to return home I'm out of luck but we're willing to take the risk.

So...anyone what to share their opinions on the best way to see a launch?

cklofas
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posted 12-17-2003 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cklofas   Click Here to Email cklofas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Get the launch viewing package from KSC. It includes admission and transport to the public viewing area. This is 6 miles from the pad, so have a good telephoto lens I have a 1200mm and got some great shots at the STS-100 launch. Also, bring plenty of sunscreen, snacks and drinks, as you will be out there for quite a while before the actual launch. Book your hotel early, the hotels all the way back to Orlando and up and down the coast fill up REAL fast.

[This message has been edited by cklofas (edited December 17, 2003).]

Rizz
Member

Posts: 1208
From: Upcountry, Maui, Hawaii
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-17-2003 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Get as close as you can.

Although you can 'see' the launch from various locations around the Cape and beach areas, you may want to consider buying Launch Tickets from KSC.

http://www.ksctickets.com/ltt.html

My son and I are 2 for 2 so far.

We viewed a night launch of Atlantis, and a daytime launch of Endeavor.

Both were spectacular.

I have video footage of my 5-year-old (at the time) counting down from T-15 seconds.

The look of awe on his little face was priceless!!

I think I was the only person to have my back to the launch pad during lift-off, but it was worth it.

The shockwave and crackling of the air that follows is something to remember. The whole experience was quite humbling.

I had explained to him both times prior to going to KSC from Hawaii that there was a good chance that the shuttle would not launch as scheduled while we were there.

That kinda softened the blow if in fact it had not launched.

We were able to watch a launch from the causeway, and another from the Saturn V complex.

Arrive a couple of days prior to launch and plan on staying in the area for up to a week after the scheduled launch date, if time and money permits. We were lucky. Most hotels are accomodating in canceling reservations, but you'll have to check around.

We spent a couple of days around KSC and Astronaut Hall of Fame and some good Italian restaurants .

Its a good idea to get familiar with the area prior to launch day. KSC is usually closed on launch days BTW.

Make the trip fun either way. If you experince a launch while your in town - it'll be the highlight of your trip.

Have fun and good luck!

Rizz

[This message has been edited by Rizz (edited December 18, 2003).]

Ben
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 12-17-2003 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My launch guide has been helpful to a few people:

http://www.geocities.com/ovcolumbia/SeePhotoLaunch.html

As a veteran of three shuttle launches and five scrubs (albeit I'm 5 for 5 on ELVs) I can tell you it's an experience launch or no launch.

You should do your best to get the causeway tickets at ksctickets.com but they are not on sale yet. Supposedly I have one, as I bought one in advance of February 1st. If I do I'll try to remember you as I probably won't use it (will probably be photographing for a news website at the press site).

If you can't get causeway tickets, Titusville is a must; a nice view, across open water, to the pad 11 miles away.

I always recommend planning around the launch, as in do not buy plane tickets till a week or so before (after NASA does the Flight Readiness Review)...or better yet drive and you won't have to worry.

Keep in mind the Return to Flight will be a more attractive launch, and it will probably be in the middle of the day. So expect in excess of half a million or more people (like STS-26 or 95) and for hotels to book up all over the place.

And remember it costs nothing to cancel a hotel reservation, so you can book that in advance and always change it.

Like Rizz said, just be sure to have fun no matter what!

------------------
-Ben

http://www.geocities.com/ovcolumbia/

[This message has been edited by Ben (edited December 17, 2003).]

ejectr
Member

Posts: 1488
From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-17-2003 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rizz:

How did you swing being able to view a launch from the Saturn V building on KSC? That's where the Banana Creek VIP viewing area is.

BLACKARROW
unregistered
posted 12-17-2003 08:24 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
FRANK/RIZZ,
I hesitate to mention this, but it's "ENDEAVOUR", spelt the same as Captain Cook's ship. Remember him?

Rizz
Member

Posts: 1208
From: Upcountry, Maui, Hawaii
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-17-2003 09:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Happy Birthday Ben!

ejectr -
A sister of a friend of mine out here in hula land.
She heard about the first launch we went to and said, "If you ever want to go again, just let me know and I'll see what I can do..."

BLACKARROW -
Thanks man - We were so far away from the pad I couldn't make out all of the letters

Anyway isn't 'spelt' a type of grain?

Rizz

[This message has been edited by Rizz (edited December 17, 2003).]

webbrass
Member

Posts: 72
From: Charlottesville, Virginia
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 12-17-2003 09:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for webbrass   Click Here to Email webbrass     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for all the great information! We're getting excited here just thinking about it and we're still probably a year away.

I checked out the link for tickets at KSC. Since they don't have any for sale there is no price. Anyone know what the price is and what exactly does that get you.

Thanks again for all the great help.

Rizz
Member

Posts: 1208
From: Upcountry, Maui, Hawaii
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-17-2003 09:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They are about $5,000 each.

No- just kidding.

I think they are about $50-ish and that includes addmission to limited KSC areas.

But I'm not too sure.

Maybe Ben knows.

Try the telephone # at the bottom of this link:

http://www.store.yahoo.com/kennedyspacecenter/lttandmaxac.html

[This message has been edited by Rizz (edited December 17, 2003).]

Ben
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 12-17-2003 11:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Rizz!

They had (before the disaster and after 9/11) cost $17 if they let you park at the Visitors Center (and did for all launches from about STS-110 [when they started with the bus tickets only] to 113) or about 30$ if its a higher security launch (STS-112 and 107 were this price) and in this case they make you park in Titusville and take a bus ride all the way out to the Visitors Center.

That is the price of the ticket alone. The entrance fee to KSC-Visitors Center and
the tours is 34$ for adults on any given day. I can't remember exactly, but I think buying a launch ticket including tour and admisison was around $54 per person (adult).

With luck maybe NASA will start giving out free passes to the causeway again :-\

[This message has been edited by Ben (edited December 17, 2003).]

TrueNorth
Member

Posts: 156
From: Bathurst, NB, Canada
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 12-20-2003 01:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for TrueNorth   Click Here to Email TrueNorth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess I am 1 for 0 you could say.

In March of 2001, we went to Florida for a March break vacation and of course I had to check if there was to be a liftoff. No luck. I kept checking as the date got nearer and what luck, STS-102 was delayed for a second time, I believe, to now be lifting off at dawn the morning after our arrival. I booked us into the former HoJo in Titusville (appx $100 US) so we would be able to get up, go out the back door, and see the launch. And that's exactly what we did. There are no words... The hotel was a complete dump, but the experience was incredible. The sun was just coming up on the Cape, it was glorious!

As somebody already stated, Titusville is 10 or 11 miles from the launch. This was the only disappointment, not being able to get closer. From that distance you could barely make out the shuttle’s shape. More like a fireball being shot up into the sky. The launch was at 6:50, so to get better places we would have had to get up several hours earlier, not a good move when just beginning a Florida vacation, which included the grind of the amusement parks. I just wanted to have a place where it would be no hassle to position ourselves. Next time, I will try and get the closest vantage point possible.

Everybody at the hotel that day was there for the launch. They were almost all counting down. The anticipation was electric.

We spent the day at the Space Center (an absolute thrill, I was enthralled the whole time). The history! If you’re a space enthusiast, plan at least two days.

While there we met at Astronaut Encounter Rick Searfoss, three time Shuttle astro. He signed for us and spoke to the kids.

Good luck and please write about how it went.

John

Ben
Member

Posts: 1843
From: Daytona Beach, FL
Registered: May 2000

posted 12-20-2003 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TrueNorth:
I booked us into the former HoJo in Titusville (appx $100 US) so we would be able to get up, go out the back door, and see the launch. And that's exactly what we did. There are no words... The hotel was a complete dump, but the experience was incredible. The sun was just coming up on the Cape, it was glorious!


Ah the Riverside Inn. That's where I stayed the first few trips down there. Ok, so it hasn't been thoroughly cleaned since the day before Apollo 11; but it's not a bad place! And a nice view of course. I have always enjoyed the view from Titusville, I think I would even like to see a launch from there one day. A sunrise one would be a ncie choice!

For now this should bring back memories for you:
http://www.wideman.org/gallery/20010308.html
http://www.motorcycle-madness.com/stories/2001/daytona/march8/launch6_lg.jpg

TrueNorth
Member

Posts: 156
From: Bathurst, NB, Canada
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 12-20-2003 02:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for TrueNorth   Click Here to Email TrueNorth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ben, that is too cool! Thanks for the memories. I have almost exactly the same set of photos.

Rizz
Member

Posts: 1208
From: Upcountry, Maui, Hawaii
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-20-2003 02:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rizz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Try the Ramada Inn on US1 near the Cape.

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