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  Viewing the last of the space shuttle launches (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   Viewing the last of the space shuttle launches
KSCartist
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posted 02-24-2010 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Space Cadet JC:
Is there any camping near Titusville?
C'mon down. You'll find plenty of places to park or camp when you're here. Manatee Hammock is just a mile or so south from the AHOF on US #1 and they have plenty of camping spaces. On the other end there is a KOA on SR 46 just west of Mims (about 10 miles north of AHOF) available.

You might contact either of them in advance. Enjoy your visit!

Rob Joyner
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posted 03-06-2010 03:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know if Gray Line originally sold out of STS-131 LTTs, but they have them available on their site. I'm thinking they may have had some cancelations due to the launch being rescheduled for the day after Easter.

Also, I called KSC and was told the complex will remain open after Discovery launches, so traffic shouldn't be too bad for those with car placards who choose to leave.

jthomp
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posted 03-26-2010 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jthomp   Click Here to Email jthomp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We are planning to see the April 5 launch. We are coming from Illinois where the sunrise is at 6:30am and the sky is beginning to get light. According to Sunrise/Sunset tables the sunrise in FL is listed as 7:11am. How is the sky in FL at 6:27am at this time of year? Can we expect to see the launch in the dark or will the sky be starting to lighten? Thanks.

KSCartist
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posted 03-26-2010 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a local - I can assure you - you'll see the launch dark, light or in between.

Enjoy and welcome to collectSPACE.

mjanovec
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posted 03-26-2010 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the Sky and Telescope almanac feature for KSC's lat/long coordinates, twilight is supposed to begin at 5:49am, with sunrise at 7:08am. Therefore, I think you'll see the sky lighten considerably before the launch.

It will be interesting to see at what altitude the shuttle's exhaust trail becomes illuminated by sunlight...assuming, of course, the launch goes as scheduled.

mercnvenus
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posted 03-26-2010 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercnvenus   Click Here to Email mercnvenus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We are first timers from Colorado. We are staying at a hotel near the highway 95 and 50 in Titusville. We do not have KSC tickets so planning on viewing from a public area. We have two kids age 7 and 9. Is there transportaion from the hotels to these areas? If we drive how is parking what are the costs? Do you bring chairs? Anyone have tips for parents traveling with kids?

jthomp
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posted 03-26-2010 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jthomp   Click Here to Email jthomp     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for your responses regarding sunrise and the lightness of the sky on April 5th in Florida. I've heard that a sunrise launch is incredible so I hope there is some lightness in the sky. Based on your posts it appears that the sky will be somewhat light by launch time. Thanks again for the input. Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that the launch goes as scheduled and that I can keep my 10-year-old awake all night to see her event-of-a-lifetime.

Jay Chladek
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posted 03-26-2010 09:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I'll be there as I'm finalizing the last part of my plans tonight. By the way, given the proximity to morning, I've uncovered an additional bonus related to this particular flight. The ISS will pass overhead about fifteen minutes before launch at 6:05 AM and be visible for three minutes. So if the sky is clear, it should make for quite a sight to see the ISS pass over, then have the shuttle liftoff onto the same orbital flight track, THEN followed by sunrise.

If that isn't inspirational, I don't know what is.

Here are the particulars via NASA Human Spaceflight Spacecraft Sighting Information page:

ISS Mon Apr 05/06:05 AM, Visible for 3 minutes, Max elevation: 42 degrees, Approach (degrees, direction) 16 above SSW, Departure (degrees direction) 35 above E

Tuesday has a four minute long sighting. So if the STS-131 delays a day, it will still be possible to see this. If she flies on April 5, then the shuttle should also be potentially visible a few minutes before the ISS.

ozspace
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posted 03-28-2010 10:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ozspace   Click Here to Email ozspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A very good friend of mine is flying from Australia for the launch of STS-131. Due to family and other commitments, he had to leave his arrangements until the FRR set the launch date before making reservations. He has his flights and first night acommadation in Orlando but NOTHING seems to be available anywhere near the center after that.

So, I wonder if there are any members here that would have a spare room for rent for say a week from the 1st? He is a retired school teacher, non drinker, non smoker, fully house trained gentleman and will be no trouble to you.

If you can help, or know someone who can, please e-mail me. Thanks and godspeed Discovery and her crew!

Jay Chladek
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posted 03-29-2010 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Checking a couple of the hotel reservation sites, there are some rooms available in Cocoa (NOT Cocoa Beach) and Titusville for around that time, but Sunday is the blackout date for many of them (Easter Sunday AND the full day before the launch). Days Inn Cocoa Expo is one such motel. It is just to the south of the Bee Line expressway and offers good access to one of KSC's south gates (or Titusville if one has to use the causeway to head to the visitors center). I think a couple hotels might have something FOR Sunday, but the prices are high.

EDIT: Looks like its gotten worse in the past few hours. Now pretty much ALL the hotels near Titusville and Cocoa have blackout dates for most of that weekend and those with only Sunday blacked out have high rates. Orlando seems the only option at this point.

Philip
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posted 03-30-2010 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks like there are no updates for the July STS-134 launch. So visiting Florida during the tourism season might not be a good idea anyway? What's your opinion?

Tykeanaut
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posted 03-30-2010 03:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally I don't like crowds, so I'd visit out of season.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-30-2010 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Philip:
Looks like there are no updates for the July STS-134 launch.
NASA managers have said that no update on the status of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is expected before May.

Jay Chladek
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posted 03-30-2010 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I was down for both STS-114 and 121 (both in July of 2005 and June/July of 2006), the crowds really weren't that bad in my opinion. At this point, ALL the remaining shuttle launches are going to have big crowds. Besides, crowds at a space launch can be so much fun as you can swap stories, use the opportunity to pass on your knowledge to others, etc... Crowds go with launches, so might as well get used to it. Traffic jams heading to and from KSC on launch day also come with the territory as well.

The normal Florida tourism crowds tend to stick to the Orlando attractions, so if you book somewhat closer to KSC, the hotel rates tend to be less except for the beach front hotels (those are always a little more expensive). When the launch dates firm up, then it will be a mad scramble to get something. If the launch is in late June/ early July, then the other factor is the Pepsi 400 race up north at Daytona as some race goers book into the hotels further south such as Titusville.

My advice is to try and book as soon as you have a firm date. You can always cancel if the date changes. Plus, if the date does change, sometimes you can beat the rush to rebook by a little bit and secure a lower price.

AstroAutos
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posted 03-30-2010 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My family and I have booked our tickets & accommodation for the STS-134 launch in late July. We are first heading to New York from July 19-26, and then staying just outside Orlando from July 26-August 3. Dad has rented a car also.

I know it's too early to tell if STS-134 will go before we leave but we had no choice but to book this early. Hopefully the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will be ready on time, and the two missions before it will go on time and without any major glitches (and I'm also hoping the hurricane-season weather stays away for the launch.)

Fingers Crossed we'll see Endeavour as she climbs into the sky one last time!

ozspace
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posted 03-30-2010 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ozspace   Click Here to Email ozspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
Now pretty much ALL the hotels near Titusville and Cocoa have blackout dates for most of that weekend and those with only Sunday blacked out have high rates. Orlando seems the only option at this point.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions and tips, this is a wonderful community. He flies out today and I am sure he will have a great time, go Discovery!

Brian Weaver
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posted 03-31-2010 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brian Weaver   Click Here to Email Brian Weaver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have not been back to the press site since STS-88. I will be covering the launch of 131 from the press site. Any heads up on changes, since STS-88? What time should I be on site? I understand traffic coming from Cocoa Beach might be a issue.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-31-2010 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brian, the press site is scheduled to stay open all night from April 4 through April 5, so when you arrive depends on the nature of your planned coverage. Some, such as myself, target to arrive before or during tanking (NASA's fueling commentary begins at 8:45 p.m.) while others arrive as the three-hour tanking process ends. By then, the public is also making its way to the visitor center, so the traffic begins to build.

tegwilym
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posted 03-31-2010 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I stayed in Melbourne for STS-130. No problems at all with traffic, and it was about a 40 minute drive back and forth. Superbowl weekend also, but at 5:30am it was probably lighter traffic also, but probably better than staying in Orlando.

ringo67
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posted 04-01-2010 08:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ringo67   Click Here to Email ringo67     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've got all my reservations set, but my basement has got six inches of water and I can't leave until I can get the level below the furnace.

I know this is a little off topic. But that fact that I may have to miss this trip is killing me. Buy I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my pumps running.

Philip
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posted 04-01-2010 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fingers crossed for those who are at the Cape and will be for the last three remaining missions. In July, you've a chance on a manned and unmanned launch in two days, although both can be delayed.

AstroAutos
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posted 04-01-2010 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, just noticed that... An Atlas V is due to launch a military communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 30 - what a couple of days that would be! (Fingers crossed I'll see Endeavour launch.)

Are you heading over in July yourself, Philip?

drjeffbang
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posted 04-02-2010 07:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drjeffbang   Click Here to Email drjeffbang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone know the best viewing area from the Visitors Complex?

I've watched from the causeway and also from Spaceview Park but 131 we'll be at the VC. We're packed and heading down to FL in T-3 hours.

KSCartist
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posted 04-02-2010 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the complex just north of the Rocket Garden they'll have big screen TV's set up so you can follow the prelaunch activities.

But to answer your question - anywhere at the VC is good. You won't see the shuttle on the pad but it clears the tree line pretty quickly.

Enjoy!

Philip
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posted 04-02-2010 08:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AstroAutos:
Are you heading over in July yourself, Philip?
Yep, but still hesitating between STS-134 and STS-133... I guess there's little chance that the July Atlas V will be postponed?

drjeffbang
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posted 04-02-2010 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drjeffbang   Click Here to Email drjeffbang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KSCartist:
In the complex just north of the Rocket Garden they'll have big screen TV's set up so you can follow the prelaunch activities.
Thanks Tim. I thought I remembered the big screen tv. We are bringing some newcomers with us for their first time seeing a launch and visiting KSC! Go Discovery!

Fezman92
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posted 04-06-2010 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I plan on going to see STS-134 this July. It will be my first shuttle launch.

Neil Aldrin
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posted 04-10-2010 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Neil Aldrin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My uncle works for a NASA contractor and is taking me to the STS-132 launch in May, for viewing at Banana Creek. He also said something about a VIP/Operational Areas tour the day before.

Has anyone ever done one of these and if so, where are you taken and what do you see? As much detail as possible please.

I have never seen a launch before so any other info would be appreciated.

Thank you!

P.S. With STS-131 being pushed from March to April, how likely do you think it is that they will stick with May 14th for the targeted launch date? In other words, how long would you wait to buy your plane tickets and how many days past May 14 would you plan for? (I realize anything can cause a scrub.)

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-11-2010 12:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I made my flight purchase about three weeks before the STS-131 launch as by that point, things were pretty much locked down (only the OMS helium line was an issue, but I figured it would clear since other pad preparations continued). When to purchase will always be a crap shoot as you never can tell with 100% certainty as to when the bird will fly. But if according to the briefings that Endeavour and Atlantis are in the pipeline with no apparent issues, then the May date will likely hold. Any upcoming issues with STS-131 would be more likely to cause a hangup with STS-134 (if the AMS isn't already causing a hangup that is) as Discovery would need to be processed as a LON shuttle in support of that flight.

Rather then booking a whole round trip, I purchased two low cost one way fares with the second one being one that I could rebook if there was a launch delay when I was down there. For the trip down, I pretty much had to keep my fingers crossed that the date would hold.

The hotel was the item I booked first since those tend to fill up fast and I booked it when the launch date switch occurred from mid March to early April. Plus, those don't require purchase, just a deposit.

Neil Aldrin
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posted 04-11-2010 05:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Neil Aldrin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have had a hotel room locked-down for sometime now for Wednesday and Thursday nights. If the launch does not occur on Friday we'll have to wing it and probably head back towards Orlando/Cocoa to stay somewhere Friday and Saturday nights as the Radisson has no rooms.

My plan was to try to plan our return flight for Sunday evening whether the launch has occurred or not. I pretty much need to be back to work Monday. What I don't want to do is to book the Sunday flight too early.

If the launch did get pushed to Sunday how does that shift the launch time? Additionally, how much longer after launch would you allow to get from Banana Creek back to your car and then to Orlando airport? Is there horrible congestion trying to leave after a launch?

As for purchasing flights, I didn't know if the launch target date would be more firm after rollout. With STS-131 still up all the coverage at NASA's website is obviously on it and I have been unable to find much on the progression status of STS-132.

I have been trying to weigh the difference in possibly paying a flight change fee and getting a better initial fare, buying a ticket with more flexibility, or waiting and paying even more for regular tickets as the time draws closer.

What airline did you use that gave you both a low fare and ability to change flights at low/no cost? Southwest?

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-11-2010 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe the time of launch shifts forward by about 32 minutes each day of a delay due to the shift of the orbit track in relation to the earth (somebody will need to check that). So if it doesn't launch on a next day and is scheduled for the next, the next attempt will be earlier.

As for time to get back, that will more then likely depend on how soon after launch you try to drive home. The two big routes back to Orlando are SR50 from Titusville, or the SR528 Beeline expressway (toll road) from around Cocoa and Merritt Island (SR-3 from the KSC south gate intersects with 528 heading back to Cocoa and then onto Orlando as a toll road). Everything else pretty well merges into those or you have to go much further north or south to get another east to west routing. The NON LAUNCH day average time via SR-528 to get back from south of KSC to the airport is about 1 hour. Average time from highway 50 is about 1 hour 45 minutes due to the more frequent stop lights on that route if you are trying to avoid the toll roads.

Depending on the time of day the launch takes place, these roads can be crowded two or three hours after launch. More local congestion will be a factor sooner after launch. But as time progresses if your goal is to get back to Orlando, you will still likely hit some form of traffic jam closer to Orlando. As such, plan for any flight from Orlando on the day after a launch to be an evening one at the soonest (the later, the better). The 528 is a direct shot back to the airport, so my guess is its delays would be less then highway 50, but you will still likely see delays no matter what (and have some small bills handy for the toll booth).

As for flights, Southwest is the one I recommend since even at their most expensive, they still tend to be the least expensive way to go even for last minute bookings. For my flight down, given my time gamble, Midwest had a cheaper fare and it was a direct shot from Omaha (no stops enroute, less chance for my luggage to get lost), so I took that. But I booked Southwest coming back since I wanted the flexibility to rebook. Worst case scenario is I knew I would only have to pay double for a revised ticket if I had to rebook for Wednesday if I needed to do so. Another plus with Southwest is even a fully refundable ticket is still relatively cheap compared to other carriers. Plus, if you book at that and have to change, then you know it won't cost you anymore to rebook to another fare. Plus they won't zing you with bag check fees.

As for gambling on flight prices, it will be a crap shoot. An odd thing I've noticed is sometimes the prices can drop in monthly increments before a planned trip. By that I mean if I am going somewhere on June 17, sometimes the price might be lower if I book on May 17, compared to what it was even on May 16 or 15. It doesn't always happen that way, but it has to me on more then one occasion.

One thing in your favor is STS-132 should be before the peak summer travel days around July 4. However, a knock will be that the summer months are typically a hot time to book vacation trips to that part of the country anyway. But if it is any consolation, STS-131 occurred during Easter vacation, which is Spring Break for a lot of schools. Even with that in mind, I was still able to get good airfares coming and going. Airlines are really pulling out the stops these days to get people to fly.

Fezman92
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posted 04-11-2010 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am looking at going to see STS-134 and we are driving down. This will be my first launch. Any tips on getting hotels near KSC?

Neil Aldrin
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posted 04-12-2010 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Neil Aldrin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
One thing in your favor is STS-132 should be before the peak summer travel days around July 4. However, a knock will be that the summer months are typically a hot time to book vacation trips to that part of the country anyway.
Jay, thank you again for all of your time and help.

I am familiar with the area because we have cruised from Port Canaveral.

I'm going to seriously nail down some flights within the next 7-10 days and hope, that if anything, there may be a one day scrub for weather or something-not a complete rescheduling days or weeks beyond May 14th.

Rob Joyner
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posted 04-22-2010 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a few folks on Facebook saying they've 'heard' general public causeway tickets will not be available for the last shuttle launch, whichever it may be, and that KSC will be allowing only invited guests there.

Anyone heard about this?

mjanovec
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posted 04-22-2010 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I certainly wouldn't be surprised if that was the case, as I've heard that the standard VIP viewing areas have already been reserved for the last three launches... and that additional areas had to be opened to accommodate VIPs. Considering that a good portion of the causeway is already reserved for VIPs (based on what I saw when I observed the STS-131 launch), it wouldn't surprise me if they reserve the entire causeway for the final launch for people associated with the program. The best view for the general public may end up being Titusville, unless you are content with the obstructed view at the Visitor's Center.

A knowledgeable person told me there may be a million people in the area to view the final shuttle launch... which rivals the numbers for Apollo 11.

Neil Aldrin
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posted 04-22-2010 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Neil Aldrin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
I've heard that the standard VIP viewing areas have already been reserved for the last three launches... and that additional areas had to be opened to accommodate VIPs.

Are you saying that if you are a NASA invited guest that you won't be veiwing the STS-132 launch from the Banana Creek area? Please elaborate.

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-22-2010 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've heard similar talk as well from former contractors who want to attend the launch. Supposedly there is a BIG contingent from DC who want to attend and of course each Congressman or Senator who plans to attend will likely have a big support staff in tow (whether or not the staff is true support or just people tagging along). Each astronaut friend of the family on the last crew will likely want to attend as well. As it stands, the VIP section probably won't be able to handle everyone if this crowd is as big as I've heard it might be.

Many former NASA and contractor people plan to attend as well, but supposedly there are no firmed up plans as to how the passes will be handed out. But supposedly the causeway will likely be used for them As such, general public passes are going to be very low on the priority list and if anyone manages to get a causeway pass, it will likely be equivalent to a Willy Wonka golden ticket.

Press numbers probably will likely rival or exceed those of John Glenn's shuttle flight, so that is also going to be a zoo. This is one of the reasons I opted to go down for STS-131 rather then 133. The Clay Anderson angle was the biggest factor in my case. But I figured the security restrictions and crowds for the final shot were going to be crazier then normal. So rather then betting on something where lack of success meant I would likely miss out on the last opportunity to cover or see a shuttle launch close up, I would try to go to a launch from before that and if I wasn't successful, I would still have at least a couple more opportunities to try again (budget permitting anyway).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2010 09:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Neil Aldrin:
Are you saying that if you are a NASA invited guest that you won't be veiwing the STS-132 launch from the Banana Creek area?
Many NASA invited guests do not view from Banana Creek -- that's not unusual. There is a section of the causeway for NASA invited guests, too.

spaceman48263
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posted 04-23-2010 06:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman48263   Click Here to Email spaceman48263     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will be going to the launch in May but can not seem to find a hotel on line. I'm looking for a place that cost $50-$75 for Thursday night. Any ideas?

Neil Aldrin
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posted 04-23-2010 06:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Neil Aldrin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaceman48263:
I'm looking for a place that cost $50-$75 for Thursday night. Any ideas?
You're going to pay top dollar if you find anything even close to KSC. If you don't mind being 30 minutes away the Days Inn in Melbourne has rooms in the price range you are looking for.


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