How To Attend - May 2009 Shuttle Launches

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bguffer

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I see that two shuttle launches scheduled for May 2009 (May 12 - Atlantis, May 15 - Endeavour).

Anyone have any advice on what a person needs to do to view a shuttle launch? What are the available options? Costs? Places to stay? What does a person do if a launch is delayed? etc.
 

georgegassaway

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Shuttle launch dates are etched in sand.

There have never been two shuttle missions launched 3 days apart. Indeed, since Challenger, I do not think there have even been any closer than a month apart, most are 2-3 months apart.

I think what may be going on is that they are penciling in one of those launches to happen in May, hopefully the STS-125 Hubble Repair mission which was delayed from last Fall, first to November, then March, and now May. But they need a critical piece of Hubble hardware to be ready, as a part failed in Hubble shortly before the planned launch, and it was not one of the parts they were prepared to replace (they had hoped a spare part made 18 or so years ago would be good, in which case they could have flown by now. But it was not good, so a new one had to be made). So if that piece is not ready in time they will let the STS-125 Hubble mission slip again and go with the other one for May, STS-127 to ISS. If STS-125 Hubble goes first, then STS-127 ISS will be delayed.

Edit - just realized another factor that is unique. Since there is a plan for having a second shuttle ready for a possible “rescue” of the Hubble repair mission, this may explain why STS-127’s is scheduled to be prepared to fly so soon. But it would not REALLY fly that soon if things go well. Only if the Hubble repair mission got stranded in orbit like Columbia could have used if the truth about the launch damage had been realized.

OK, look at this page of the schedule:
https://www.nasa.gov/missions/highlights/schedule.html

There are various categories for scheduling. * for not earlier than ,and ** for to be Determined, and + for targeted for. None of those really end up being solid. Indeed, the next mission, STS-119, recently slipped due to a valve issue in the ET. I do not recall the date it had been set for, but now it is set for Feb 22. And that might slip.

A place that sells tickets to the launches. You pay money to get on a bus and get dumped at the same NASA Causeway sites that used to be *FREE*, and you could use you own cars. Thank “privatization” for this. But much as I hate to say it, it is better to pay this ransom and get closer, than to see it from one of the free sites farther away. At least, if this might be the only time you will ever see one, it makes little sense to not pay to get to go to the best spots the public used to be allowed to go for free. The one and only launch I have seen, it was on the causeway, for free, which now you cannot get to without paying to take a bus. Take note this link is to a “dot-Com” address, so this is not the KSC-NASA site which is “nasa.gov” site.

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/events-launches.aspx


If you did want to see it for free, then here is a link to KSC’s

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/about/view/view_shuttle.html

Let me mention the one time I tried to see a shuttle launch, which failed, and the time I had no plan to, which is how I got to finally see one. In 1983, for Challenger’s first flight, there was a regional Contest near Daytona, and STS-7 was supposed to launch about 3 days later. So, I arranged to fly down and to plan to spend two weekends there, about 10 days, so if the launch slipped a few days, I would still be able to see it. Well, a month or so before the planned launch, one of the main engines had a problem, and Challenger had to be rolled back to the VAB to change out the engine. A 3 week delay. So, I missed the launch, and spent those extra days in Daytona anyway (staying with Pat McCarthy). That experience put me off from trying to schedule to go to specifically see a shuttle launch. But at least I did go down to fly a contest (and we did well), so that is more than many who have gone and had a launch scrubbed.

In September 1992, the World SpaceModeling Championships, or WSMC, was held in Melbourne, Florida, about 60 miles south of KSC. Longtime NAR member and former NAR trustee Jay Apt was about to make his second flight on a shuttle. In the summer of 1992, Jay would pop up on Compuserve’s Rocket Forum once in a while to give an update on his mission’s schedule. At first (around early June) it was set for early August. Then by July, set for late August. Then in early to mid-August, the mission was set for early September. Could it possibly slip into the dates some of us would be there for the WSMC???? And then the schedule update news at the end of August..... launch set for Sept 12th, and it STUCK. Hey, some of us were going to arrive in Florida for the WSMC the day before then! So, it just so happened that a shuttle launch date slid right into place, perfectly too, because for Sept 12th we were “settling in”, there was no actual rocket activity until Sunday (practice flying). So, anyway, that is how I got to see one - by not trying to see one. And ironically enough, it took off dead on time, not a delay of any sort. Except we were delayed getting in because Vice President Quayle’s limousine was about an hour late in arriving so all roads into the Causeway were shut down until after he arrived.

Oh, now that I think back on this, and then the “privatized” (sanitized?) viewing by bus, I would not be surprised if they did not allow people to take things on the bus like the “missile” I took with me for a friend to hold up as I took the photograph below. That is my 1/60 RC Piggyback orbiter.

The mission I saw (STS-47) is the one I modeled, for a serious scale bird, BTW.

For some more info, you might want to join the STS-shuttle YahooGroup and ask:

https://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/STS-shuttle/

- George Gassaway

EndeavourSquared_92.jpg
 
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Delta-IV

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I see that two shuttle launches scheduled for May 2009 (May 12 - Atlantis, May 15 - Endeavour).

Anyone have any advice on what a person needs to do to view a shuttle launch? What are the available options? Costs? Places to stay? What does a person do if a launch is delayed? etc.
As George mentioned, the best and closest the public can see a launch is from the KSC Visitor's Center Bus ticket. This site is about 6 miles south of Pad 39A.

Before I got a job here at the Cape, I used to go to Space View Park in Titusville or some of the other good vantage points along US 1 more to the south of Downtown Titusville. Another point is from SR 528 between Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral (Cocoa Beach area).

KSC-Visit.jpg
 

GuyNoir

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I see that two shuttle launches scheduled for May 2009 (May 12 - Atlantis, May 15 - Endeavour).

Anyone have any advice on what a person needs to do to view a shuttle launch? What are the available options? Costs? Places to stay? What does a person do if a launch is delayed? etc.
https://www.sworld.com.au/steven/space/shuttle/guide.txt

I've seen STS-37, STS-47, STS-59, and STS-79 launches.

The worst one was GREAT!!! :D
 

James Duffy

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A place that sells tickets to the launches. You pay money to get on a bus and get dumped at the same NASA Causeway sites that used to be *FREE*, and you could use you own cars. Thank “privatization” for this. But much as I hate to say it, it is better to pay this ransom and get closer, than to see it from one of the free sites farther away.
The changes have more to do with the realities of post-9/11 security than the fact that the Visitor's Center is a contracted operation run by a private firm. Not allowing unscreened private vehicles on a government facility during sensitive times strikes me as a good idea, frankly.

We took our daughter to see the STS-120 flight in October '07, and the package we purchased for causeway viewing was an outstanding value.

James
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Honestly, just watching from across the river along US-1 in Titusville is an amazing view. There are some good spots to watch along there if you know exactly where to go. The best view is still if you know someone at the Cape who has a VIP pass to one of their viewing sites on NASA grounds.
 

GuyNoir

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Longtime NAR member and former NAR trustee Jay Apt was about to make his second flight on a shuttle.

. . .

And ironically enough, it took off dead on time, not a delay of any sort.
- George Gassaway
As you probably know, Jay leads a charmed life. :)

Only his STS-59 mission didn't take off on time. Every other one, STS-37, STS-47 and STS-79 hit every launch mark once a final schedule was set.

For those of you contemplating attending a launch before the shuttle's retirement, do it.

And forget about all the photos, video, etc. you've seen. The light output at ignition cannot be adequately captured on film.
 

georgegassaway

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For those of you contemplating attending a launch before the shuttle's retirement, do it.
Definitely. I am glad I did get to see one, I do no think I will have the opportunity to go again. Though if I never had....I would try to, somehow.

And forget about all the photos, video, etc. you've seen. The light output at ignition cannot be adequately captured on film.
That was something that struck me. The flame from the SRB’s is not “white” like it looks on TV or film. The light is so intense that it washes out in the camera (maybe there is a FAQ out there with a much better explanation). In real life, the SRB flames are sort of a bright orange as you see from the sun at sunset. But unlike a sunset, cameras just cannot capture it.

- George Gassaway
 

rocketace

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I think what may be going on is that they are penciling in one of those launches to happen in May, hopefully the STS-125 Hubble Repair mission which was delayed from last Fall, first to November, then March, and now May. But they need a critical piece of Hubble hardware to be ready, as a part failed in Hubble shortly before the planned launch, and it was not one of the parts they were prepared to replace (they had hoped a spare part made 18 or so years ago would be good, in which case they could have flown by now. But it was not good, so a new one had to be made). So if that piece is not ready in time they will let the STS-125 Hubble mission slip again and go with the other one for May, STS-127 to ISS. If STS-125 Hubble goes first, then STS-127 ISS will be delayed.
Thats it :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-127
 

mjennings

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Across US1 from Miracle City Mall is good viewing right on the Indian River, plus no one can charge you for parking in the mall lot (lots of people charge to park). If you've seen In The Shadow of the Moon the shot of all the people in front of the JC Penny's is at Miracle City Mall. The mall is far from Miraculous these days though. No matter what option you chose at soon as she's out of sight traffic is horrendous. Bring a GPS or some one that is good with a map and try to stick to back streets for as long as possible. If it's an early morning (ie 0'Dark 30) like 119 is looking or Mon-Fri Business hours it is not quite as bad.
 

GuyNoir

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georgegassaway

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STS-119, Discovery, has been delayed from Feb 22nd to no earlier than Feb 27th. For more info:

https://www.spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts119/090213meeting/

It was just a week or two ago that it had been set for Feb 19th and delayed to the 22nd. I did not keep specific track of date changes, but as I look at the Wiki listing at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-119

It indicates that on Jan 22nd, the launch date had been set for Feb 12th, so it was scheduled to have launched two days ago. But a problem with GH2 valves cropped up, and is has led to the delays.

This shows how, sometimes, a shuttle mission’s launch date can shift. So this is what makes trying to schedule a trip to see a launch somewhat risky. Of course, some missions have no problems at all once a “firm” launch date has been set, and have not had last-minute problems (and avoided weather issues).

- George Gassaway
 
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