Club PA 2.0 has arrived! If you'd like to access some extra PA content and help support the forums, check it out at patreon.com/ClubPA
The image size limit has been raised to 1mb! Anything larger than that should be linked to. This is a HARD limit, please do not abuse it.
Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

Rocket launches

VarinnVarinn Vancouver, BCRegistered User regular
Has anyone "been there done that" with watching a live launch of a reasonable size rocket? Girlfriend and I live in the PNW and I feel like this is the sort of thing that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime so I'm kind of interested in finding out what is involved in going to watch one. I've done a google search, seen a massively long list of every launch scheduled in the next year but as an outsider I don't know what is what on this. I'd prefer to make the journey really count if we were to go and see something on the larger side. Being that we live in the PNW and it would be a road trip on limited vacation days I think we would need to stay within or along the coast/Idaho/Nevada. California would be ideal, being able to pass by the grand canyon would also be ideal.

Can anyone guide me to a good starting point on what to watch out for?

3clipse wrote: »
TERRANS MORE LIKE OPRANS AMIRITE

Posts

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Do you mean like, NASA type rockets or just hobbyist type rockets?

    Ladies.
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    I've driven out to Cocoa to watch the Space Shuttle and a few rockets take off. It's a pretty spectacular visual on a good morning, and assuming all goes well you get to see a Florida sunrise followed by the rocket.

    Not sure I'd call it a "must do" by any stretch, the movies and youtube videos give you much more visual than what you get. You will always be way too far away for any detail beyond bright yellow ball is blasting upwards. This video is about as close as you can get at NASA, for example:


    It's very pretty, but its also something that, with slight changes, can cause you to have spent your entire travel time for nothing as the launch is delayed for any number of a thousand minor issues. And delay in this instance is usually to a later actual day, rather than by a few hours.

    You are essentially waiting for 3-7 hours for a 30 second visual seen from 5-10 miles off. A great excuse for a morning picnick, and a great way to start a beachside vacation day, but probably not worth a trip for itself.

    Also most major launches are going to be in Florida, Texas, or Kazakhstan. You might have a few minor satellites going up elsewhere, but those are the big three.

    Enc on
    bowenZilla360Elvenshae
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    if you're into rockets and space, it's definitely an experience that is amazing though

    Ladies.
    EncZilla360Maguano
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    To be true, living in central florida makes it somewhat blase' as we see them going up on the horizon fairly frequently until recent years. As a kid in the 90s we could watch the launches from my front porch 80 miles off from KSC, or see them going up as you were being bused to school. We also heard the reentry booms so much that we learned to tune them out. I may not be a good reference for them being awe inspiring as, like Disney on the other side of my town, it's something we are so used to being there that we generally just tune it out for our daily struggles with the swamp and the perils of living with and as Florida Man.

    Oddly, the only rocket launch I remember with absolute vividness was the launch of the Cassini-Huygens rocket in the late 90s as we were not allowed to watch it out of the paranoia over the plutonium power source should it malfunction in the stratosphere. Of course, it wouldn't have mattered if we watched it or not, but for a non-scientific household with local media paranoia of the time everyone "stayed inside" to protect themselves from the potential radiation. I remember watching it through a mirror because my mom thought that would be safer or something.

    So bonkers.

    Enc on
    bowenSkull2185Zilla360ShadowfireElvenshaespool32Ken Ochrishallett83
  • BeNarwhalBeNarwhal The Work Left Unfinished Registered User regular
    If you're looking for "big" rocket launches, Vandenberg Space Launch Complex 4, not too far from Santa Barbara, California, hosts launches of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is currently grounded, but when they DO return to flight, they'll have a regular schedule of launches out of Vandenberg, as they have a long, ongoing contract with Iridium to launch dozens of satellites.

    Several caveats to watching a launch live - as Enc mentioned, your view won't compare to what you can view online, but I understand needing to experience it all the same. Vandenberg is infamous for being foggy on launch day, AND you'll want to be prepared to hang around for a few days, in case their are launch delays.

    He/Him
    Narwhal, you should make "Sometimes while someone is explaining something to me, I am thinking about rockets" your signature
    bowenZilla360
  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    If you're traveling somewhere to see rockets, there are probably going to be other space-related things like museums. So you spend part (most?) of the day watching the launch, and then you can go see the space museums.

  • VarinnVarinn Vancouver, BCRegistered User regular
    This is all very good input, the Vandenberg space center seems promising when SpaceX is back in action. To be true I had considered the idea of delays, and I understand the idea that you get a better view on youtube than you ever would in person (unless you happened to pack along a big telescope or some such). But like other things in life I want to see some things in person. The grand canyon looks cool in a picture on Imgur, but I doubt it compares to seeing it in person. I've watched F1 races and drag cars launch on the highest quality slow motion but it pales to actually feeling your chest pulse from the noise of a top fuel dragster in 100ft away. I've heard a rocket launch is a similar comparison. Besides it's a good excuse to road trip and see a few of the things America has to offer on the way down. (Oregon coast -> North California highways/coastlines (Been here before, glorious riding on a motorcycle) -> Vandenberg -> Grand Canyon)

    3clipse wrote: »
    TERRANS MORE LIKE OPRANS AMIRITE
    BeNarwhalZilla360
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    You're right, nothing compares to actually seeing them in person. Having been to the grand canyon before, it's.. terrifying and beautiful and you just can't capture those feelings with a photo.

    I plan to go to Kennedy Space Center when they launch the crewed Orion mission in the next few years.

    Ladies.
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Having been to the Grand Canyon, the North Face is harder to get to but easily more interesting (I feel). Keep in mind you probably will only want to do one or the other as you have a ~200 mile loop to get from one face to the other.

  • Skull2185Skull2185 Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    To be true, living in central florida makes it somewhat blase' as we see them going up on the horizon fairly frequently until recent years. As a kid in the 90s we could watch the launches from my front porch 80 miles off from KSC, or see them going up as you were being bused to school. We also heard the reentry booms so much that we learned to tune them out. I may not be a good reference for them being awe inspiring as, like Disney on the other side of my town, it's something we are so used to being there that we generally just tune it out for our daily struggles with the swamp and the perils of living with and as Florida Man.

    Oddly, the only rocket launch I remember with absolute vividness was the launch of the Cassini-Huygens rocket in the late 90s as we were not allowed to watch it out of the paranoia over the plutonium power source should it malfunction in the stratosphere. Of course, it wouldn't have mattered if we watched it or not, but for a non-scientific household with local media paranoia of the time everyone "stayed inside" to protect themselves from the potential radiation. I remember watching it through a mirror because my mom thought that would be safer or something.

    So bonkers.

    Yeah, I live about 50 miles south of Cape Canaveral, and it became such a normal thing that you forgot this wasn't a natural occurrence in other states. It got to the point where a launch would annoy me because of all the traffic they would cause... :P Definitely worth seeing a launch in person at least once, though.

    Everyone has a price. Throw enough gold around and someone will risk disintegration.
    Zilla360
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    Varinn wrote: »
    This is all very good input, the Vandenberg space center seems promising when SpaceX is back in action. To be true I had considered the idea of delays, and I understand the idea that you get a better view on youtube than you ever would in person (unless you happened to pack along a big telescope or some such). But like other things in life I want to see some things in person. The grand canyon looks cool in a picture on Imgur, but I doubt it compares to seeing it in person. I've watched F1 races and drag cars launch on the highest quality slow motion but it pales to actually feeling your chest pulse from the noise of a top fuel dragster in 100ft away. I've heard a rocket launch is a similar comparison. Besides it's a good excuse to road trip and see a few of the things America has to offer on the way down. (Oregon coast -> North California highways/coastlines (Been here before, glorious riding on a motorcycle) -> Vandenberg -> Grand Canyon)

    That said, Vandenberg is an active military installation so you'll have to find a place off base to view a launch there. Page 6 of this article has details

    BeNarwhal
  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    edited October 2016
    I've mentioned it a few times around here, but I was working at Disney in 2011 and managed to see the last shuttle launch with some manatees on the Indian River just across from Kennedy space center. I consider seeing that launch to be one of my top life achievements; take from that what you will.

    It is definitely not something to plan a trip specifically for and doing nothing else, but doing something like going to Disney for a weekend or so when there is supposed to be a big launch and taking a drive to the coast to watch it is something I would highly encourage.

    Veevee on
    ElvenshaeMaguano
  • MaguanoMaguano Registered User regular
    I happened to be flying home from Orlando while one of the last shuttles was taking off.
    <pilot> errr.. ladies and gentlemen, if you look out the window, you'll see the space shuttle that just launched.
    I'm pretty sure the plane lurched as everyone tried to look out the one side of the plane.

    not sure you could plan something like this....

    steam:maguano2
    gamertag:Maguano71
    3ds 2853-1334-6215
    Fry
  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Hey @Varinn, I was part of the mission operations team for two launches from California earlier this year. I was in a facility where we didn't have line-of-sight of those, but got to be an observer at different one in mid-2015 up close. It was very exciting for me. That being said, I don't think planning a trip solely for that would be a good use of time or resources; there are many things that could prevent you from seeing the launch that are completely out of your control. Might be neat if you are in the area for something else, but don't go hours and hours out of your way.

    VeritasVR on
    CoH_infantry.jpg
    Let 'em eat fucking pineapples!
Sign In or Register to comment.