Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
Shuttle – Last Few Launches
As homeowners we are often asked where to go for the best Shuttle Launch view. This is one of the most exciting, awesome sights you can see whilst visiting Florida. The memory of such power will stay with you for a very, very long time. If you see a night time launch the vision is amazing – a huge white firework lighting up the whole sky.
As this article is written there are just four more shuttle launches scheduled: Discovery on mission STS-13 on 5th April (6. 27am), Atlantis STS-132 scheduled for 14 May (2. 28pm), Endeavour STS134 planned for 29 July (6. 43am) and Discovery STS 133 (11. 57am) All times are EDT. If a shuttle is delayed until the next day the launch time gets earlier each day. Keep in touch to ensure the schedule is on time. We take a radio with us. You can sign up for text messages by texting ‘follow spaceflightnow’ to 40404. To stop them text ‘leave spaceflightnow’.
There’s a great comradery as you wait for a launch. At our last one we went to the Indian River on US Highway 1 in Titusville. This is just 12 miles from the launch pad with great views as its just water between you and the launch pad. . There is limited parking on the streets but many businesses open up their car parks for a small fee. I think we paid $5. Close by is a Burger King – very popular, very busy and very convenient. We then walked over the to park area (follow the crowd! ) as it was an early morning night launch.
We set up with chairs, radio and refreshments and took in the ambiance. The anticipation as the time gets close is amazing and the park area was really full but good humoured. Everyone was counting down and then this roar is seen and heard as the shuttle seems to start its ascent very slowly at first and then quickly increases to a quick upwards speed. The sound is incredible, the light astonishing. Everyone is clapping and cheering! Your eyes are transfixed at this wonderful sight. No one moves as the shuttle flies higher and higher. The trail of smoke leads on and on, until finally you can’t see the shuttle. (It takes two minutes to leave the earth’s atmosphere – did you know Apollo 13 took 6 minutes? )
Everyone walks back to their vehicles just in awe of the sight they have just experienced – man and science have come a long way.
Another place to view is at the Kennedy Space Centre itself – information can be found on their website and you can sign up for news and emails on launches to keep you up to date. This is just over 7 miles from the launch. Their tickets can be quickly taken up due to the high demand. However, if a launch is delayed you won’t have value from your ticket and vice versa if you arrive after the scheduled launch you won’t have a ticket so the following sites may be better.
If you don’t want to see the launch pad and want to combine a day time launch with a day at the coast, an alternative, especially if you have family not too interested or too young to enjoy ‘anything space ‘ is Jetty Park or Cocoa beach. This view may not be as exciting as waiting neary but you will see the shuttle about a minute after it has launched elevating into the sky. Jetty Park (just under 14 miles from the launch site) has a pier and can be great for viewing Delta 2 rocket launches as they use Pad 39A. Still an unusual experience of a trip to Florida if you are swimming in the Atlantic and look up to see a the astounding shuttle climbing in the sky.
With so few launches left and a 2 – 3 year gap before the new Ares rockets are planned it may be worth taking time to view one in your vacation time.
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