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Watching a Space Shot? 96

Gramie2 asks: "I was toying with the idea of throwing my son in the car and driving for two days to watch the latest shuttle launch. I didn't, but it occurred to me that I don't know the logistics of going to watch a launch. Where is the best place to stay near the site? Where do you view from? I imagine that there are restrictions, so do you have to get tickets or make other arrangements ahead of time? How do you find out the launch schedule? What about smaller launches? How do they compare? Is there one time of year that is better than another? Does anyone have other recommendations for the whole experience?"
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Watching a Space Shot?

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  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pyrote ( 151588 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:24PM (#16012417) Journal
    From my childhood the best place was at the beach somewhere locally... you can't really get up-close anyhow. I remember it quite a bit from when i was 5 (now 29).

    Although I beleive once can get closer as I've seen press much closer, but I don't know what the policy is on that.

    Good luck and post some pics (on a STRONG server) if you get any good ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dr Reducto ( 665121 )
      Viewing distance is much farther away for shuttle launches vs other launches from what I understand

      And I presume they let press closer because they sign some sort of "hold harmless" contract
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Gangis ( 310282 )
      A good place is Playa Linda Beach in Titusville. I was there a few weeks ago and could see the shuttle quite clearly on the launchpad. It would have been an awesome place to watch the shuttle go up but I'm sure it'd be packed on launch days!
      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Informative)

        by slightlyspacey ( 799665 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:31PM (#16012715)
        Unfortunately, the road out to Playa Linda and the beach itself is closed on launch days. Don't even think of sneaking past ... the NASA SWAT team sports MP5s [hkdefense.us] among other toys :)
        • It's the Gators and snakes I'm worried about.

          Why do you think the SWAT team carries said MP5s? Gator defense.

          I'd rather die of kenetic lead poisoning than a Gator death roll any day.
          • They don't wrestle the gators? Phht. Bunch of pussies. The fightin' spirit has gone out of you yankees, I swear. Back in my day, if some gator came for us, we'd beat it to death with the packs full of rocks that we had to lug from place to place, rock-transport being the principal economic activity at the time. Damn gators didn't get uppity after that, I tell you what. Good old fashion gumption is better than an MP5 any day. Unless that day happens to involve triffids or a really scary spider or some
    • but I don't know what the policy is on that.

      Nowadays? Likely "don't be brown."
    • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @08:37AM (#16015241) Journal
      ... here is how my wife and 1-year-old son and I did it.

      If you enjoy camping, there is a KOA just north of Titusville on the interstate. Otherwise check out the state parks. (they were all full, fourth of july week and all).
      Anywhere along the shore close to the shuttle is good (pull out a map...) but where we saw it - along with mostly locals - was a bridge just **north** of Space View Park (A Max Brewer Memorial Parkway). Take the bridge until you are almost to the entrance of the park, and camp it. You will need to get there hours early (we got there 8 hours early and there were quite a few people... but it was the first return to flight mission). Bring a grill and some fine grillables.
      The other options is viewing **at** kennedy space center which is a mile or two closer, but the tickets are sold out by now.
      Launch schedules are on NASA's website http://www.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]
      For the whole experiance? Take a few days, go camping, the day before go tour Kennedy Space Center, because if the stars align and there aren't any problems with the shuttle they will actually drive you within a mile or two of it and you get some pretty good camera shots (from inside the van). I'd suggest getting there 2 days before the launch, go to KSC, go to the launch, don't be suprised if the launch gets scrubbed, and plan on having vacation last a few extra days in order to attend scrubs, if they happen. If not there are plenty of other attractions...
    • Actually, a great place is across the river from KSC. Go to the Miracle Mall on US1 in Titsuville. Tons of parking there. Then just walk across US1 (at the Burger King on the river) and enjoy.
    • I have lived on Florida's space coast all my life -- long enough to see the space program from project Mercury on. Watching rocket launches is a hit or miss thing, with delays and cancellations very common. Everywhere within 5 or 10 miles of the launch pad is restricted. The closest viewing location is the VIP stands and news booths near the VAB. That's about 3 miles from the pad. You might luck into tickets if you know someone. Next is the NASA causeway (still restricted), about 6 miles away. This is a gre
  • If you do go for a scheduled launch time, make sure you book a good hotel.
  • Central Florida (Score:5, Informative)

    by sp3d2orbit ( 81173 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:26PM (#16012424)
    Cocoa Beach, south of Daytona Beach in Florida, is a pretty good spot to watch the shuttle launch. The parking is free (in some places), there's plenty of it, and, if the shuttle launch gets scrubbed, at least you get a day at the beach.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bergeron76 ( 176351 )
      Agreed. If it's a night launch, try to watch it from the beach. The Port extends out into the Ocean, and when it goes up it reflects off the ocean and lights the sky up bright white.

      I grew up down there, and I've seen a few night launches. Night launches are _extremely_ impressive.

      Also, don't get your hopes up too high. You won't see astronauts waving out the windows or anything. At best, you'll see a small object with a huge flame coming out of it.

      • by Amouth ( 879122 )
        the only one i have ever seend was at night.. it was at the third light near the officers club there at Cocoa - it was great.. kinda funny to see people on tv trying to get close to it.. it is sooooo much better to watch it from the beach..
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr2cents ( 323101 )
        They don't do no night launches any more. It's a safety concern, they want to film the shuttle so they can see everything that falls off. (something to do with a shuttle exploding a few years ago).
    • Agreed, for any launch that beach rocks. Also, for all those naysayers who claim that it's just a dot with flame shooting out, it's really considerably more impressive than that. I've only seen a smaller rocket launch, but it was from the space shuttle pad.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:28PM (#16012436) Homepage Journal
    The causeway is about the best place to watch the launch. You will be shocked by the traffic and the people that will be there.
    If you can not make it to the Nasa causeway Merritt Island isn't bad.
    Remember that you go all that way and the shuttle will not launch.
    In the summer people bring grills, and jet skis :) People tend to be nice and friendly.
    One of several parks on the beach side will also give you a good view.
    I don't know about anyone else feels but when I see a launch I feel an emotional attachment that watching it on TV just doesn't provide.
     
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rts008 ( 812749 )
      Hear! Hear!
      You said it. Having a decent view of a live rocket ( of any size, but especially the shuttle) is an awesome experience! You can see it well, you can hear it really well, and what you CANNOT get from the TV is: you can FEEL it launch. Your best home media solution with massive subwoofers can't even com close to the rumble you can feel from the soles of your feet thru the top of your hair!
      You can't fully appreciate the power these things unleash in controlled fury until you've actuall went and seen
      • You can see it well, you can hear it really well, and what you CANNOT get from the TV is: you can FEEL it launch. Your best home media solution with massive subwoofers can't even com close to the rumble you can feel from the soles of your feet thru the top of your hair!

        I remember hearing the engine tests at Rocketdyne's Santa Susanna test facility when living in Thousand Oaks about 15 miles away. The whole house was shaking and it was impressive hearing the sliding glass doors rattle away and these were

        • by gatzke ( 2977 )
          I grew up in Huntsville AL and saw a shuttle engine test at Marshall SFC. Very impressive.

          My mom grew up in Huntsville and tells stories of the Apollo days testing the giant engines that rattled the whole area.

          Think of the lawsuits today if you rattled an entire town with a rocket test...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        I would like to think that it goes past the sound and furry of the event. I grew up in South Florida you can see the shuttle go up from my house, the house I grew up in, the high school I attended, and now my office. When you are near KSC with everyone else watching and waiting it is just different. You are part of it. Rush wrote a song about the first shuttle launch called countdown. It really seems to capture the feeling of the event. It is like the difference between kissing a woman love and watching
        • by rts008 ( 812749 )
          You got it!
          I'm not enough of a writer/wordsmith to do the subject justice, but I hope I somewhat was getting my point across- there just is nothing like experiencing a launch first-hand.
          I agree about the lump in the throat sentiment of yours, if something like that can't get through a person's jaded mentality and help create a bit of awe for the scope of accomplishment for mankind, then I don't want to be around that person as you stated.
          We've came a LONG ways from wearing skins and making fire with two sti
    • I wondered if the causeway was still open to the public.

      I left NASA back in the late 90s, and had the supreme fortune of getting a vip pass to a launch while I was on TDY at KSC (sorry for the acronyms). I sat in the bleachers and watched the shuttle go up right across the banana river (I think is was on pad 39A, but I can't be sure). Employees don't normally get passes, but a high up mucky-muck had an extra pair due to a cancellation from some international dignitaries and offered one to me since I was the
      • NASA opens up 10,000 for the causeway. Tickets are done thru a contractor. There are also 3500 at the VIP site at Banana Creek. Just a warning about that site, if the winds are blowing west, an acidic cloud will come by about 15-20 minutes later. It's a minor irritant if you don't leave before it arrives; the state senator did not for STS-121 and got the full experience (July 2006) The KSC Visitor Center expects about 10,000 a launch and the Astronaut Hall of Fame typically sees about 4000. There's a
    • Agreed. I remember seeing my first night launch and the awe of thinking that humans were on that shuttle going into space.

      It can certainly be a tear-jerker if you appreciate science and have empathy for the human condition.

  • Visit the center (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:37PM (#16012487) Homepage
    They have a store for purchasing tickets:

    http://kennedyspacecenter.stores.yahoo.net/ [yahoo.net]

    Also saw this when searching for the causeway passes, which seems to indicate that you might have to go some other way:

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/about/question s/faq.html [nasa.gov]
    • "Space Shot" is an amusement park ride at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama.

      It's pretty cool: a 4G liftoff, then 2 seconds of weightlessness. If you let go of a penny at the top, you can watch it fall with you as you drop for a second or two.

      http://www.spacecamp.com/museum/attractions/mu_sim s1text.php [spacecamp.com]

      Maybe he meant to say a "shuttle launch"?
    • I'm not sure how things have changed since I saw the shuttle go up (Challenger when it blew), but we went this route.

      Prepare to spend at least a few days waiting around in case the launch is delayed, and even then I remember arriving pretty early in the morning.

      The neat part about this (besides the bus driver who drove us all out to the penninsula from the Visitor's Center), was they they piped the com chatter from Mission Control to the Orbiter (and back), over loud speakers placed along the viewing beach.
  • Link-Tastic (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rockinsockindune ( 956375 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:44PM (#16012522) Journal
    Lots of links to schedules, and recommendations of places to go to watch. http://www.sworld.com.au/steven/space/shuttle/guid e.txt [sworld.com.au]
  • When I was a kid, my brother worked at the center (tour bus mechanic) and he got us passes to an area directly across a waterway to the launch pad. It was still a LONG way away from the pad, but you could make out the shuttle on the pad. It was an AMAZING experience. I remember sitting on top of our van, and feeling the ground shake for a minute or so as the blast-off took place. Worth going, even if you don't get in that close. P
  • I was at the Discovery shot after the Challenger explosion. Go to Titusville and find a place along US1. The side streets are a good start. If you can, stake your claim near Sandy Point Park. Grab some hot boiled peanuts (gross but addictive) and get there REAL early.

    Better yet... get a boat and hit the Atlantic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Would a boat in nearby water be in any danger from the shock waves?
      • by kometes ( 64603 )
        You expecting another explosion?

        I would skip the boat. They keep the offshore waters pretty well cleared of boat traffic during a launch.
  • I remember my parents bringing me to watch a launch close up once when I was a child. I seem to remember there being two field-like areas that one could view from, one much closer than the other, though the close one was some sort of "invite only" affair. Perhaps tickets were required. Paid parking passes were definitley required, though we did get pretty close up, close enough to see the shuttle and its different parts and what not.

    I'm not sure if it's changed since then, but you can still see it from pret
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I remember as a child visiting Cape Canaveral twice, and being there for one shuttle launch. I don't remember the details too well, as it must have been about 15-20 years ago, but I remember standing behind a fence probably about 1.5km from the launch pad. I do remember feeling like I was really close, and being able to clearly see the launch pad without binoculars or anything like that. It was truly magnificent watching the shuttle launch from that close.

      The only other shuttle launch I remember watching so
      • There's nothing like seeing a Saturn V go up, though. Geez, it must have been Apollo 13 (my youngest brother wasn't there, and I can't possibly be remembering Apollo 12). I think we were on the causeway, just standing by our parked car.

        Still, I hope the kid is at least five, so the memory is of more than just the actual moment of launch.

  • Shuttle Launch (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sean5033 ( 246214 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:03PM (#16012608)
    The closest you can get is about 3.5-5 miles. A few times my friends and I have driven State Road 50 until it dead ends near KSC for shuttle launches. You litterally see it anywhere in central Florida, but the experience of feeling the sound is best experienced on the beach. There are plenty of hotels in the area, you'll want to make reservations as far in advance as you can. The hardest thing is that you might not see it go off. I saw a launch get scrubbed with 3 seconds left on the countdown clock.

    I've been beachside for a few of the rocket launches, my experience was about the same, just scaled down a bit. Unless you have binoculars it's hard to tell the difference between a shuttle launch and a rocket launch.
  • by slightlyspacey ( 799665 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:05PM (#16012616)
    The Unofficial Space Shuttle Launch Guide [sworld.com.au] is perhaps one of the finest guides to seeing a shuttle launch and should be consulted first.

    If you do decide to go the route of buying a launch viewing ticket from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, please be aware of the rather mercenary [ksctickets.com] policies in place if you buy a ticket and the launch is scrubbed. Delaware North runs the Visitors Center and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. They'll even charge astronaut families and invited guests for busing them out to the VIP viewing area -- at least they were three years ago. Don't know if that has changed.
  • by KC1P ( 907742 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:05PM (#16012623) Homepage
    I don't think you can really go wrong. It would be cool to be close enough to see the launch tower etc. but it's a pretty good show from anywhere. I was at Disneyworld with my wife in 1997 and the night of a launch we hopped in the car and headed east, hoping we'd find our way to a good vantage point. Well we got behind schedule and were still an hour away when the time came, so we pulled over (so did a lot of other cars) and turned on the radio so we'd know when to squint and look for a bright dot in the distance. Yeah right, it was like the rising sun!!! It was great. And just when the radio said they were dumping the external tanks we saw a couple of dots drop away, very very cool. So anyway after that I started to suspect that the US space program may not be a hoax after all, they sure as hell launched something and if it wasn't going to space, it wasn't for lack of trying.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by kunwon1 ( 795332 ) *
      Great story. I'd mod up.
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by rts008 ( 812749 )
        If I hadn't used the last of mine on the UK vilent porn ban a few minutes ago, I would give him +1 for that.

        So anyone with mod points, please do as kunwon1 suggests and give parent some karmic joy! That was a good post!
  • Wallops Island (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sean Riordan ( 611520 ) <riordan DOT sean AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:17PM (#16012658)
    If you are in the DC area you can always try Wallops Island [nasa.gov] for launches of some smaller vehicles.
    • by jea6 ( 117959 )
      Thanks for the tip. I had no idea about this and have put November's launch on my calendar.
  • Call your senator (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cronb ( 994958 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:23PM (#16012674) Homepage
    Last time I went to see a shuttle launch I called my state senators office several months ahead of time and after a lot of holding and a little convincing I got a pass to get closer in. I'm not sure exactly how close since it was several years ago but that's what I would do, it was worth it.
  • For fucks sake. (Score:3, Informative)

    by kunwon1 ( 795332 ) * <dave.j.moore@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:28PM (#16012699) Homepage
    Google for shuttle launch watching [google.com]

    First result [sworld.com.au] is a big guide detailing all of those things mentioned in your question and with more than a dozen links to other related materials.
  • by NeverSignsIn ( 999016 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:38PM (#16012748)
    I've been on the causeway for a shuttle launch. Thats about as close as anyone can get. It was amazing. Make that Freakin Amazing (TM). You see the flames and smoke in the distance and of course it takes some time for the sound waves to catch up. What really surprised me was that I watched the water vibrate as the shockwave sped towords me. Then it hit. The ground shook, my ears were filled with the roar and my internal organs rattled. My pregnant girlfriend was there and I have always wondered if we altered our son's development.

    As a kid they used to let us out of our elementary school classes to watch the Saturn V's take off. Eighty miles away in Orlando we could still see the flames. In fact we used to sit in the living room at home and watch the shuttles through the window, while the TV showed us the close up. Thats how we watched the Challenger explode.

    So anywhere you get within twenty miles is going to knock your socks off. Just be prepared for delays that may sending you home with dissappointment.
    • Awesome description of a launch. Three miles is as close as anyone can get except a few NASA/contractors who can watch from the Vehicle Assembly Building (1 mile away). If the vehicle were to explode on the pad and you were outside at the VAB, you'd toast. Literally. At three miles you have a good chance of survival. At five miles you'll be OK. Launch range safety is always a top consideration. Nevertheless, it is not perfect. Statistics, models, and ultimately judgement. The Canaveral Air Force base
  • Of course, one thing to consider is delays. Out of the three shuttle launches I remeber, only one went off when it was scheduled (the other two were off by days). Especially after Columbia, and during the summer w/ hurricanes and afternoon thunderstorms. I did see a spectacular pre-dawn launch from here, [google.com] I believe. When we went it was somewhat of a last minute thing, so we got stuck in a crappy hotel, but with enough planning, you should be able to get even closer and get a good hotel. And if it doesn't go
  • My wife had a science experiment go up on Challenger in '99. She managed to get a ticket for me as well, so we got to sit in the VIP section (some bleachers) opposite the public area. This was for one of the rarer night launches.

    It was surprising to me how far away the shuttle was, that is until it launched. There is *nothing* like being there to witness the raw power expended to push a shuttle into orbit. It's worth the risk of missing the launch (we had 2 failed nights followed by the real thing). I
    • Well, there are probably at least two things that are more impressive than a launch. The obvious one is actually being launched. But the less obvious one is a test firing. I spent 18 months working at Thiokol Propulsion got to see several of them, including shuttle boosters, peacekeeper missles, and experimental engines. You stand on the side of the road a half a mile from the rocket and they have it strapped down to a huge slab of concrete and they light it up and it burns for 123 seconds in the case o
  • by m0ng0l ( 654467 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:55PM (#16012840)
    Although it's about 5 miles from the pad. Went several years ago with my wife, and parents (X-Mas present sending them to FL from us kids) Worked out well, my Mom was able to get a good view, and they had elevator access to the roof deck. Watching from the KSC Visitors Center would have been OK, but you can't see the pad, so you only see the shuttle once it's in the air. AHF roof, you can see the pad.

    I think to get closer (media area or Satrun V building), you need to either be related to someone on the shuttle, or maybe brown-nose your senator/congress people. Even those areas are around 3 miles away from the pad.

    Only downside to AHF is the tower is just a little spike on the skyline, nothing like what you'd see from the media area. Price when we went down was basicly, buy an admission to the AHF, you could get up on the roof. They even had a projector showing NASA TV coverage on the wall of the Space Camp building....
  • Influence (Score:2, Informative)

    Contact your congressman. Seriously. That's the best way to do it. It was when I worked there.
  • by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:05PM (#16012904) Homepage
    Seriously. They'll get you pass to see the launch closer. The one launch I went to (STS-26), my friend wrote/called our congressman, and got a pass. There were three level of passes back then, in order of closesness they were badges, orange car passes (we had this), and yellow car passes.

    I remember two things about the launch. First we saw liftoff and then several seconds later we felt the blast and the heat, and heard the roar of the engines. It was amazing how quickly the environment changed. It was like a wall of heat rushing over you. The second thing I remember is that on the way back to the car, it rained. I've always thought that it had to do to all the water vapor that injected into the air by rocket engines.
  • Pretty much anywhere on the east coast within 100 miles, especially for a night launch. I happened to be in Daytona for spring break one year when they had a night launch with, IIRC, a new moon, and it was spectacular even from 60 miles away. The whole beach was pretty well lit up for about half a minute or so. I'm not sure if the next launch is planned for day or night (probably day since night launches are fairly infrequent), but I'm sure it wouldn't be a bad view from Daytona even during the day.

    But i
  • Some friends and I drove up from Miami to watch a Shuttle Launch way back in the 80's (the launch with Senator Garn)...

    We watched it from Cocoa, not to be confused with Cocoa Beach, along the river...
  • by ChrisCampbell47 ( 181542 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:22PM (#16013244)

    This might be actually be one of the best chances to see a launch, because they REALLY want to get this thing up into orbit by Sept. 8th. They've been chomping at the bit for 3 years to get going on ISS assembly and they've got the 2010 deadline. And as Tuesday's crawler reversal shows, they are pushing hard for this launch. Sept. 8th is a hard deadline, and after that they either have to relax rules (which they'd take a lot of grief for, both internally and externally) or wait until late October.

    Road trip!

  • by taylortbb ( 759869 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `senryb.rolyat'> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:22PM (#16013246) Homepage
    Kennedy Space Centre has a visitor's centre where you can go on tours of the launch pads, landing facilities, etc. (they take you out in busses) and as someone who has gone it's a really cool experience. I talked to the guide (who had worked for NASA for many years) about where the best place to see a launch is and his reccomendation was to get tickets and they'll bus you out to the closest you can get to the launch pad as a civilian. There are stands for VIPs about 3 km closer but getting a ticket requires some connection to NASA though people have gotten them by writing their representative in congress. His advice however was that becuase of the angles you'll get a better view from the public viewing spot.
  • My approach... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:30PM (#16013288) Homepage Journal

    ... is to get lucky. While on vacation in Florida, I took my family to Kennedy Space Center and there just happened to be a lauch scheduled for later that day. We bought tickets, watched the shuttle go up and toured the space center.

    So, there you go. Just show up and maybe they'll launch a shuttle for you like they did for us.

  • About 23 years ago, we watched a Columbia launch from the causeway. Our Senator's office was nice enough to send us tickets - the only thing I've ever received from our elected officials.

    Still, we were 3 miles away, not as close as I wanted to be. We had to arrive 8-10 hours before the launch because of the traffic. And June in Florida is, well, too hot to be sitting out in a swamp for 8-10 hours. It was 100 degrees F with 98 percent humidity. If you go in the summer, bring lots of ice and a full tank of ga
  • AND I still have not seen a launch up close.. I live only about 45 minutes south in Melbourne, Fl and have tried MANY times to go and watch one, but with launch delays, it makes it very hard to do. It's a crap shoot. Throw the dice, take the drive and hope it goes up. Probably not worth it, especially with all the security they have now and with all the cams they have covering each launch, you can't get a better view in person.

    But I hear it is a cool experience none-the-less, but I have given up. Only i
  • I'm not sure of the situation today, but there used to be about four sites available for non-NASA employees: the Causeway is about 5 miles from the pad, the press site and the VIP site are around 3 miles, and the other one ('static test road', I think) is in between. The VIP site definitely gives a better view of the launch, but because of the location you can't see the shuttle on the launch pad: the tower is between you and the shuttle.

    The only one you're likely to get to at short notice is the causeway, a
  • Search for "Oak Hill, FL 32759" on Google Maps.

    As Routes 1 & 5 cut SW towards I95, you will see Route 3 (Kennedy Pkwy) extend SSE and head right past the VAB. (Of course you can't get that close). Heading down Route 3, you will come to a bridge that crosses over Haulover Canal (where is says Allenhurst on the map). The road was/is closed beyond the bridge, but there is a little sandy parking lot next to the bridge. It is the same distance as watching from the causeway itself. The road was closed be
  • I know that this is somewhat off topic, but this is one of the first good "Ask Slashdot"s in a while. Most of the other topics have been of the "I can't think for myself or do a web search, let me ask someone who might have."

    As far as this topic, this is pretty interesting. Very solid information, and if I ever want to do a similar thing, I know where to look for information.

    RonB
    • by slcdb ( 317433 )
      Most of the other topics have been of the "I can't think for myself or do a web search, let me ask someone who might have."
      So you don't think that a Google search for "nasa shuttle launch tickets" would turn up this link [nasa.gov]?
  • I would love to take my son to some sort of rocket launch, but we are not in a poisition to make it to Florida for a shuttle launch. I am pretty sure there are some unmanned rocket launches from elsewhere in the country. How for do I have to drive from Dallas to get to see one of these, whether NASA or private industry? Where are they?

    -- Cameron
    • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:55AM (#16016945) Homepage
      The problem with just about all launches, manned or unmanned (aside from weather sounding) is that most of them take place as close to the equator as possible to get a "boost" from the earth's rotational speed. Thus, if you live in Montana, expect to drive a little.


      Now, something you might consider, while nowhere near as large as a real launch, but still a fun day out that you and your kids will enjoy, is to attend a high-power model rocket gathering in your area. Despite the name of "model rocket", these things are anything but models - don't expect Estes launches here (although some clubs run small launches for kids in between the main launches). These things are as big as and act the same way as a regular missle (and if you want a "thundering" launch, the hybrid liquid NOS/solid fuel rockets are very fun to watch). Flights of +10,000-20,000 feet are not unheard of. These are great events to go to, many of them have vendors selling smaller kits, but if you buy, be prepared for a very expensive hobby (a rocket costing $5-10,000.00 to build, then exploding on the pad, is also not unheard of). Also, you need to be mindful of all warnings and such of the launches, and watch/listen to everything - I have seen large rockets lawn-dart not too far from crowds, and if you aren't looking, you could have a painful lesson.


      But don't let that put you off - it can be a fun occasion for the entire family - bring some lawn chairs and binoculars, maybe a barbeque or a picnic basket. Lasts for a few hours, and you will have a great time, and meet some interesting people (at one I attended, I met a guy who successfully launched a homemade rocket he made out of PVC pipe and some two-by-fours - no kidding!)...

      • by camt ( 162536 )
        Oof. I need another expensive hobby like I need a hole in the head.

        But thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into the model rocketry clubs and see what I can find. In a metropolitan area of 5 million people there is bound to be something.

        Thanks.
        • by cr0sh ( 43134 )
          Yeah - there was show a long while back (about 5 years ago) on Discovery Channel about HPR. One of the guys built this beautiful rocket. Basically, he knew nothing about rocketry (I don't even think he even built any Estes models), but he had credit cards with large limits.

          You probably have seen the type: macho dudes with too much credit and not enough sense living in a cracker-jack box of the suburb home on a second mortgage (taken out to finance the big boat, truck, and jet skis he just had to have). Anyh

  • I did the total tourist thing for a launch a few years back, and I loved it. So not me, but the crowd was great, all 'round wonderful experience.

    But the best part was after the launch, when all the glory has gone, realizing that by the time we got back to the car, they were in orbit...
  • by Cheshire2600 ( 845048 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:01AM (#16016401) Homepage
    Space view Park in Titusville is the best place to view a Space Shuttle launch, if you haven't got a NASA Pass. There is a cable connection (part of the Franchise Agreement) in the park. The City of Titusville gets NASA-TV off the cable, and puts the audio on loudspeakers with the NASA Feed. You can also get this from the local Ham Radio repeater on 146.940 MHz.
    http://spacelaunchinfo.com/spaceview.html [spacelaunchinfo.com]

    A "Space Launch Viewing FAQ Page" can be found at http://spacelaunchinfo.com/faq.html [spacelaunchinfo.com]

    Information on launch holds and scrubs can be sent to your cell phone: http://spacelaunchinfo.com/holds.html [spacelaunchinfo.com]

    Keep Smiling,

              Cheshire
              Richard Cheshire, The Cheshire Catalyst
  • my advice (Score:3, Informative)

    by pontifier ( 601767 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:19PM (#16019345) Homepage
    I went last year when the launch was delayed for a couple of weeks. I found 2 good spots by driving around and looking at google earth.

    One was behind Holiday Inn (wi-fi), and the other was one block north of McDonalds (grassy and shady). I slept in my car under a palm tree there overnight and wasn't bothered. That was last year, but I can't imagine it shouldn't have changed too much.

    Advice: Get there early to get a good spot. Getting there the day before the launch will let you look around and pick any spot you want. 12 hours before will let you get a good spot, and 3 hours before launch will make it hard to find a place to park. It wasn't boring for me to get there early as the other people waiting for the launch were fairly interesting to talk to.

    Also... I recomend waiting a while for traffic to clear before trying to leave. It's realy bad for an hour or so afterwards, but then it clears right up.
  • The way that I watched my last launch at Cape Canaveral was to jump up from my station and run out the control room door after I saw the rocket ignition on the video monitor. I got outside just as the Delta II cleared the tower.

    The way that I found out about the launch date was by attending the meetings that were held while we performed integration and test on the satellite that was to be launched. For the five months I was at Cape Canaveral, I stayed in condos at Canaveral Towers and the Cape Winds Resor
  • I happened to be in Orlando at a conference when there was a launch on a few years ago. It was dead easy, even to do at the last minute - just drive in the general direction of Canaveral and park by the side of the road. You may not think you're close enough, but you probably are! Allow extra time because lots of other people will have the same idea. If you want a laugh, tune in to local radio, too.

  • I live in Homestead, Florida, which is several hundred miles from Titusville.
    On night launches, you can watch from my house as a bright ball of fire rises into the sky.
    On a clear day, you can see it as well, depending on where the Sun is in relationship to the launch.

    If you are anywhere even remotely close you are going to have a great view. If you want to hear the launch, I suspect that anywhere within 50-75 miles you'd be able to hear it.

    Of course, HDNet is now broadcasting the launches in HD, so I will
  • (Sorry for the lateness. Been off-line for surgery.) In 1989, my wife and I honeymooned in Clearwater, FLA, just south of Tampa. As I was unloading the car, I notice, in my peripheral vision, a big streetlight off behind me. (I was facing west.) A little later, I noticed the streetlight had moved!! Then, I straightened up and saw the shuttle's rockets. I hollered at my wife and we watched it go up into the sky. We saw very clearly the seperation of the two side rockets. So, you can see the thing quite clear
  • Where I Grew Up.

    I grew up ('68-'74) in Cape Canaveral. I lived longest just South of Cape View Elementary, which I attended, in the 500 block of Adams Ave. http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=559+Adams+Ave ,+Cape+Canaveral,+FL [google.com]

    Back in the day, the whole school would go out to watch "public" launches. Amazingly enough, everyone new when less public launches went up too! ;-)

    Titusville is just West of the launch pads for the shuttles. You should be able to see the launch well from the coast looking eas
  • Does anybody have information on wacthing the launch by boat? Would love some helpon this. Thanks, len

"Be there. Aloha." -- Steve McGarret, _Hawaii Five-Oh_

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