While a handful of people won the ticket lottery and will be viewing the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis from the Causeway, Visitors Center, or Hall of Fame at KSC, what should the rest of humanity do? Where do you view a space shuttle launch from? NASA provides some helpful alternatives. One of my favorite websites with helpful shuttle viewing info is the aptly named launchphotography.com. They also offer, obviously, photography tips.
Rest assured, I’ve seen launches from all over Florida and I’ll tell you, there really isn’t a bad seat. I’ve watched from Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando, and near Daytona.
That being said, I won’t deny that closer is better. I’ve made the trip to Titusville three times, and it was worth it. Even sitting in traffic for hours afterwards, we had no regrets. We never got there early enough to get right on the water’s edge, thus we’d miss the first second or so of the launch until it cleared the bush or tree in front of us, but it is still close enough to hear it and, the best part, to feel the low rumble. I’ve also heard Jetty Park near Cocoa Beach is a great place to view from, just south of Cape Canaveral AFB. Folks in Daytona swear by watching from the beach.
To get Titusville, take exit 220 off I-95 and follow the road almost all the way to Space View Park. But Titusville has 4 or 5 good miles of coastline all along Route 1 that offer direct views across the water of KSC and the shuttle launch area. In other words, if SVP looks too crowded, just drive a few minutes south. You’ll still likely have to park and walk a good distance, but maybe the crowds will only be a dozen deep instead of hundreds deep.
Space View Park is around 13 miles away from the pad, but one can still clearly see the VAB and the launch. Look in the center of the photo and see the VAB. It’s about 10 miles away, with the launch pads behind it slightly to the south.
Our view from slightly farther back was fine. The VAB is right above the lady in light blue. The gazebo right next to the V
AB in the shot gives you an idea of how far back we were. Don’t let 100-200 feet bother you. It’s not a big difference given the shuttle is 13 miles away. We did miss the first seconds of the launch because of the trees. Eh, we were there to witness it, not get great photos. I’ll leave that for others more qualified.
Right about launch time, several fathers boosted some kids on top of the Apollo monument. I’m not sure if this was disrespectful, or the ultimate respect because what better testament is there to those early pioneers than children looking up in wonder at the miracle of human space flight?
Don’t forget to hang around for the full launch. It’s great to watch the shuttle go until it is a tiny dot in orbit. And the trails left behind in the sky can make some interesting images. We all agreed this looked exactly like the number 3. In memory of Dale Earnhardt, clearly. 😉