Going to see the last shuttle launch!

CyberPitz

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So, for my very first viewing of the space shuttle launch, I figured this was the best time to do it! I just wanted to get some information from folks who've been there, done that. From what I've read/heard, there's no tickets to buy or official locations to go and view the launch close (relatively) up. I guess you just have to find a nice spot somewhere and just sit and wait? Anybody have any information on that?

Since it's going to be launching in Florida, anybody have any tips as to what hotel is nice and that's relatively close, and still able to enjoy the FLness (Beach, tourist traps, etc)? I've never been anywhere like Florida, so I have no idea what I could do.

I will be driving *D:* down there starting the 6th, and will arrive sometime in the morning of the 7th. Launch occurs on the 8th. Leaving on the 9th. If any hl2netters want to stop by and hang/grab a beer or whatever (**** YOU XEV YOU ASSHOLE. I'm driving 20 hours, and you can't spare 2...****er), lemme know.
 

99.vikram

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Since it's going to be launching in Florida, anybody have any tips as to what hotel is nice and that's relatively close, and still able to enjoy the FLness (Beach, tourist traps, etc)? I've never been anywhere like Florida, so I have no idea what I could do.
I hear it's a great place to get eaten by crocs. Or to die alone in the marshes.
 

Ennui

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I have never seen a shuttle launch so I don't know about the best viewing spots or hotels or whatever.

What I can tell you are two things that I've heard from other space shuttle enthusiasts (I watch most of the launches online when I can, and pay attention to SomethingAwful threads about each mission which have some seriously hardcore space nerds in them):
1) There's a big chance the launch will be scrubbed or postponed for that day based on weather, or if they find anything even slightly wrong in inspection checks, so be prepared for the possibility that you will drive 20 hours only for it to be postponed a week
2) You will not be the only one trying to see this launch. I believe over a million people went to see the last launch in person. The effect of this is that you need to get there like eight hours early to even hope to have a decent spot - what I heard is that during the last launch the entire area was basically a huge traffic jam and all of the popular viewing locations were absolutely packed with folks.

I would totally go with you if I wasn't taking summer classes at the moment which I can't miss. I'll be watching online at least!
 

Shakermaker

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I have been to a shuttle launch once, but that was eons ago (1985 iirc). Back then we got tickets for the 'official' area which was supposedly as close to the launch pad as possible, a little under three miles. But like Ennui said, this is probably a different situation, being the last launch and all. Great that you're going. Make LOADS of pics.
 

StarBob

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I have been to a shuttle launch once, but that was eons ago (1985 iirc). Back then we got tickets for the 'official' area which was supposedly as close to the launch pad as possible, a little under three miles. But like Ennui said, this is probably a different situation, being the last launch and all. Great that you're going. Make LOADS of pics.
That's pretty much as close as you can get I think. I'm not sure about hotels or anything, but as far as the shuttle launch goes, you can pretty much see it from anywhere. It's not something you miss. I lived like 70 miles from it when I was a kid and saw it clearly every single time. If you can however, get as close as (legally) possible. I haven't personally been that close but the amount of raw power being unleashed can probably only be appreciated from a distance where you can feel it.

You better hope you're really lucky though. It seems like you're more likely to just witness a countdown to nothing the way they postpone launches. Plus if they miss the window it can be a while before another one comes along.
 

Shakermaker

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The amount of raw power being unleashed can probably only be appreciated from a distance where you can feel it.
Absolutely agreed. I can remember that my body was litterally trembling from the noise.
 

CyberPitz

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Yeah, I'm prepared for it to be cancelled...it would just become a getaway from tornado ridden Joplin for a weekend...

They do sell tickets for the 'visitor center'. but those are sold out.

A MILLION PEOPLE JESUS CHRIST. Maybe I'm in way over my head, here.
 

A2597

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I went to the last launch of the Endeavor. Got there at 5am for a 8:54 launch. (in Titusville, 11 miles from the pad, closest you can get without tickets to the causeway viewing area).
Place was mobbed. Bridge is the best viewing spot, but it was already packed. Went to the space park, packed. Started walking along the coast until I found a spot with an opening for myself. Worth it. Even at 11 miles away. Worth it.

Bring cash for parking BTW, and get there early. at LEAST 5 hours before launch, I'd say more if you want a good spot. Bring something to munch on as well.
The closest parking with gouge you at $30-$40, drive back a couple blocks and you can find spots for $10. Bring a portable radio so you know whats happening, otherwise you have to trust someone around you to tell you what's happening.

And lastly, stay until it's officially cancelled. Don't give up when there is a "minor issue which may cause them to postpone". Had that happen, and some people left, launch still happened on schedule.

And have no fear that you'll miss it. You'll know when it lights up. Insane.
 

Krynn72

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I saw a couple launches while I was at school, all the way over in Orlando. I can't imagine how awesome it would be up close.
 

Escaep

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So, for my very first viewing of the space shuttle launch, I figured this was the best time to do it! I just wanted to get some information from folks who've been there, done that. From what I've read/heard, there's no tickets to buy or official locations to go and view the launch close (relatively) up. I guess you just have to find a nice spot somewhere and just sit and wait? Anybody have any information on that?

Since it's going to be launching in Florida, anybody have any tips as to what hotel is nice and that's relatively close, and still able to enjoy the FLness (Beach, tourist traps, etc)? I've never been anywhere like Florida, so I have no idea what I could do.

I will be driving *D:* down there starting the 6th, and will arrive sometime in the morning of the 7th. Launch occurs on the 8th. Leaving on the 9th. If any hl2netters want to stop by and hang/grab a beer or whatever (**** YOU XEV YOU ASSHOLE. I'm driving 20 hours, and you can't spare 2...****er), lemme know.
It's a shame I'll be leaving for Austria on the 1st otherwise I'd say you could stay with me. I live in Titusville which is only 10 or so miles from the launch pad. But I will warn you though, they are estimating at least a million people will be in the county for the launch so my best idea is to bring some lawn chairs, sunscreen, food, beer, and just wait it out. The estimated drive to Orlando post-launch is 6 hours, normally it takes only 45 mins. The best place to view is probably Titusville but you will probably have to go down to the Indian River and grab a spot at LEAST the day or afternoon before the launch, otherwise there is no way in hell you will get anywhere near it. Sadly, if you haven't booked a hotel already you are going to be hard pressed to find one as they are almost all sold out right now. Again, if I wasn't leaving this Friday you could stay with me. What I would do is if you don't think you can make it to Titusville try going to Cocoa Beach and sitting on the beach. Do as I said before and bring some beach chairs, towels, sunscreen, beer, food and just camp out on the beach until the evening. If you go to Cocoa Beach there are plenty of places to visit (Ron Jons surf shop + other tourist shops as well as plenty of places to eat.) If you go to Titusville and over the main bridge you are on your way to the beach but once you are out there you are pretty much stuck out there if you want to go get food or drink as it is probably 10-15 mins to get to the nearest place.

If you have any questions pm me or talk through steam.

I went to the last launch of the Endeavor. Got there at 5am for a 8:54 launch. (in Titusville, 11 miles from the pad, closest you can get without tickets to the causeway viewing area).
Place was mobbed. Bridge is the best viewing spot, but it was already packed. Went to the space park, packed. Started walking along the coast until I found a spot with an opening for myself. Worth it. Even at 11 miles away. Worth it.

Bring cash for parking BTW, and get there early. at LEAST 5 hours before launch, I'd say more if you want a good spot. Bring something to munch on as well.
The closest parking with gouge you at $30-$40, drive back a couple blocks and you can find spots for $10. Bring a portable radio so you know whats happening, otherwise you have to trust someone around you to tell you what's happening.

And lastly, stay until it's officially cancelled. Don't give up when there is a "minor issue which may cause them to postpone". Had that happen, and some people left, launch still happened on schedule.

And have no fear that you'll miss it. You'll know when it lights up. Insane.
Heh, you were only a few mins away from where I was standing. I would recommend a lot more than 5 hours if you want a good spot.
 

A2597

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This was a shot I took from the Endeavor Launch, taken with a 200mm lens on a 60D



You'd see about the same with a good pair of binoculars. Although it's impressive with the naked eye...thing is freaking BRIGHT! Photos do NOT do that justice.
 

Kadayi

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Awesome..get lots of photos dude and upload them. :)
 

CyberPitz

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Geez, I guess I shoulda expected this, but I didn't think it would be THIS BAD. I'm having serious issues locating a place to stay in a reasonable distance (Wish I woulda prepped more..)

So yeah....this will be interesting.
 

Escaep

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Geez, I guess I shoulda expected this, but I didn't think it would be THIS BAD. I'm having serious issues locating a place to stay in a reasonable distance (Wish I woulda prepped more..)

So yeah....this will be interesting.
Well if you're getting there on the 7th and you want a good place to watch the launch you might want to consider just getting as best of a spot as you can and just camp out. If you find a good group of easy going people you might be able to just chill with them until the launch and then keep chilling/go to the beach. The night of the 8th you might be able to find some rooms as a lot of people will leave.
 

Ennui

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This was a shot I took from the Endeavor Launch, taken with a 200mm lens on a 60D



You'd see about the same with a good pair of binoculars. Although it's impressive with the naked eye...thing is freaking BRIGHT! Photos do NOT do that justice.
Cool photo. You should fix the caption though, it's spelled Endeavour (the British way) not Endeavor, because it's named after Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour (first European discovery of Australian continent).
 

CyberPitz

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Well if you're getting there on the 7th and you want a good place to watch the launch you might want to consider just getting as best of a spot as you can and just camp out. If you find a good group of easy going people you might be able to just chill with them until the launch and then keep chilling/go to the beach. The night of the 8th you might be able to find some rooms as a lot of people will leave.
Decided to just get a hotel in Orlando. We'll drive out at about 4 AM and nap until 10:30. Crack open some beers and wait....
 

Adabiviak

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Oh man, I entered that lottery NASA was having for their premier viewing spaces, but didn't get one. I'm envious - that will be awesome, and I have a feeling we won't see another shuttle for a long time. Do post pics if you get some.
 

A2597

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Cool photo. You should fix the caption though, it's spelled Endeavour (the British way) not Endeavor, because it's named after Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour (first European discovery of Australian continent).
...I had not noticed that, thanks for pointing it out! (Plus, that will make the caption so much better. ;) )
 

CyberPitz

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Where did you plan on going?
Wherever there's space...probably aim towards Titusville, near the beach. Any suggestions? I know it's going to be holy shit busy no matter where I go.
 

A2597

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Go to the space park in Titusville, then start walking south along the shore. The space park is about as close as you are going to get, but much of that shoreline is prime viewing area. :)
 

Escaep

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Wherever there's space...probably aim towards Titusville, near the beach. Any suggestions? I know it's going to be holy shit busy no matter where I go.
Well there is a main bridge in Titusville where A2597 took that picture and that is as far as you can go as they close the beach and most of that area east of the river off during the launch for safety reasons. The bridge is probably one of the best places to view it but you will there with probably 50,000 people. As A2597 posted above, Space View park is really nice if you can get there early. Along US1 on the river there are a lot of spots to watch from but they will probably charge for parking and what not.

From Orlando (if you haven't already got directions) you'll want to head east on 528 (there are tolls, so be prepared to stop) then go on 405 and you'll land on I-95, head north. Exit 215 in the first exit for Titusville, you can take that or go to the next exit either one works. If you get off on 215 (which is Highway 50) you'll want to stay on that until you get to US-1. Anywhere from the intersection of US1 and Highway 50 north will be prime viewing area. Once you get to the US1 look across the river and you'll see the VAB (you honestly can't miss it).
 
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