Where can I see the space shuttle launch?
April 27, 2011 6:11 AM   Subscribe

Where is the best place to see the space shuttle launch in person this Friday?

I wanna take my 11 year old daughter & 7 year old son to see Endeaver's last launch this friday at 3:47pm.

I've never been to a launch before & want to have the best possible experience i can with my kids. A friend of mine told me I don't need to goto Cape Canaveral.... i can go just north & find a place to view it.

Is there anyone who can tell me the best spots to see the shuttle take off, while not being in the middle of tons of people?

Is it worth us going to the cape & trying to get RIGHT THERE to see it????
posted by foodybat to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This question was very helpful when I went to see a launch last year. Well worth the trip!
posted by TedW at 6:27 AM on April 27, 2011

I have watched launches from right there at the cape, and I have watched launches from my driveway in Winter Garden, 70 miles away. Both are fun, but watching from a long distance where you only see the rocket go up is just "cool" whereas watching from close enough that you can hear and feel the rumble of the engines is "freakin' awesome". For your kids to really enjoy it, you will want to be close enough for that sensation.

That being said, please be aware that more often than not the launches do not happen when they are scheduled. The last launch I watched up close, I went to the cape on three different days before the launch finally happened. Be sure you and your kids are prepared for that possibility. (Heck, that could probably be a great discussion with the kids about launch windows and the science behind them.)
posted by Lokheed at 6:29 AM on April 27, 2011

Trying to get closer might come with an increase in the traffic and security congestion for the President and Giffords. I watched from Titusville. I would consider it pretty close and manageable congestion. Plenty of RV's, campers, filled up the coast parking.
posted by brent at 7:54 AM on April 27, 2011

Are you north or south of Cape Canaveral?

If coming from the north: Where can I see the space shuttle launch?

If coming up from South Florida any of the beaches on A1A should afford a nifty view. These websites might help: brevardcounty.com and Florida Today.

Something to keep in mind - unless you are at a Space View Park, and have a zoom lens, you aren't going to see the shuttle itself. You see the exhaust, the smoke, the rocket fire, and a gleam that is the sun reflecting off the shuttle. On a great clear day you'll see the booster rockets dropping back to earth. Scroll down to see examples from Cocoa Beach (south of the Cape) is what most people see. It's spectacular! but don't go in expecting to see it like we do on tv.

Most of us locals watch the first seconds of the launch on tv, then run outside to see the plumes, watch the boosters, etc.
posted by tar0tgr1 at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2011

Ummm...Beware. Last launch we had about 400K visitors and roads were clogged past midnight (4:50PM launch). We are expecting between 500K - and 750K for this one. Patience will be required.

I work here (the pad is outside my window). I'm not supporting this launch, so where will I watch from?

posted by jeporter99 at 8:39 AM on April 27, 2011

I've found this site to have very detailed and updated information.
posted by Nothlit at 8:39 AM on April 27, 2011

I watched from here last year. Those are bleachers specifically for watching launches. We watched a pre-dawn launch and got there two hours early. The bleachers didn't fill up until T-minus 30 minutes. But, this launch is in the afternoon. I'd get there plenty early and bring your blanket or lawn chair and set up right at the edge of the water.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 10:52 AM on April 27, 2011

Is it worth us going to the cape & trying to get RIGHT THERE to see it????

Good lord, no, especially not this time. You won't be able to get anywhere near the place with the President planning to attend.

But even regularly, you can view the launch much better from other venues, like Jetty Park or Space View Park, then actually at the launch site at the Cape, where many areas are restricted anyway.

The traffic from this one will be bad enough that if I WERE planning to attend, I'd leave the day before and spend the night near where I plan to watch ( I live 45 minutes away from the actual launch site and won't be going. I'll just watch from my front yard; though I would like to catch a glimpse of the Obamas, it's just going to be a madhouse there).

Launches are impressive and definitely worth seeing, especially with kids. And signs look good for the launch, the weather does seem to be cooperating. But there is always a chance it won't go off on the first go, so have alternative plans ready just in case!
posted by misha at 11:27 AM on April 27, 2011

Response by poster: I live in Tarpon Springs, near Clearwater.

What I would like is to have a spot, that someone knows doesn't get very crowded & is close enough where we can REALLY see, feel, and maybe hear the whole launch.

The weather is supposed to cooperate.... and with an early afternoon launch, if it gets delayed an hour or two, we'll be prepared to stay as long as possible.... if it gets postponed, then we'll have to leave (& not spend the night).
posted by foodybat at 12:14 PM on April 27, 2011

Re-read the visitor estimates above. These visitors will be all over the county.

520, the BeachLine aka major artery between Orlando and the coast, will be a parking lot ALL DAY.

Local schools are releasing early so families can view the launch.

People will be filling up the beaches (prepare to pay for parking if you can find it) or camping along US1 (cheek and jowl next to news vans).

The best places to view are Jetty Park and Space View Park if you can get there at the crack of dawn to snag a spot.

Plus the weather is only one small factor is launch delays. Mechanical concerns can also delay or scrub a launch.
posted by tar0tgr1 at 11:47 PM on April 27, 2011

We're headed north from Coral Springs. The mancub and I are undecided on our viewing site. I have fond memories of running out between classes to watch the shuttle launches from UCF, but it's his first (and last) time so we're trying to get close. Foodybat, did you pick a spot yet? Space View Park may be too crowded for us, but I like the presence of bathrooms! Decisions, decisions.
posted by theplotchickens at 4:42 AM on April 28, 2011

Response by poster: Chicken, I haven't decided on a spot yet....

Here's what i know.... it will be crowded just about everywhere.

Given 80% good weather & the President attending, i'm not expecting the launch to be scrubbed.

I think my general plan is to take I-4... & shoot over 46... .ending up just a bit north of Titusville somewhere around Mims.... probably stopping anywhere that seems like the best place to stop (maybe in some parking lot somewhere ....?).

Truth is .... front to back the launch is really only around 5-10 min. ... so i wanna make this memorable, special, etc.... but also as quick & painless as possible. I Just really wanna get close enough so they kids can hear it ....(if they could feel it too, that would be awesome)....

We'll watch space movies on the way there, i'll have books for them to read about the whole space shuttle program, etc.....

The only X factor is how crowded where i will end up, will be.

posted by foodybat at 6:50 AM on April 28, 2011

« Older I need suggestions for a ticket system for my...   |   What Was the Name of This Book?!! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.