Have you ever watched a launch?

On November 07 1996 I happened to be at the Kennedy Space center taking a break from a business trip I was on at the time. I was fortunate enough to be there when Mars Global Surveyor was launched. I was wondering how many here have seen a launch take place in person. Where and when?

My wife and I did Richard.

We drove in a '68 VW bug to the Cape from Windsor/Detroit to witness the Moon launch in July 20, 1969.

We even stayed with a couple in Titusville named Paul and Virginia Schmit. They had 2 small children that we took to the beach on several occasions. Paul was an engineer in charge of the third stage of that rocket that took off that day...I talked to him 3 times in that week and most of it was at 2 in the morning. I can't remember what was said, but I can still see him even now standing by his bookcase with a load of papers in his hands. A very pleasant man and family.

Took home movies of the launch and the great people we were fortunate to have met.

What a ride...we will never forget that trip. We stayed in contact with them for some years after, but now have lost all contact.

They have drifted into the depths of our minds just like that launch.


I have travelled the 7 hour trip to canaveral three times and three times it was scratched. However....back in the early 80's on a crisp Central Georgia morning as my father, brother, and I were parking the truck just before sunrise....I saw my first. As I looked toward the salmon colored fringes of light from the still below the horizon sun, I noted that a bright star was rising quickly through the pinkish dome proceeding the rising sun. I watched witn growing interest as I saw that there was a darkened shadowy line falling behind the bright rising "star" like a vapor trail, but....different. My heart began to pound as I saw the rising "star" make an impressive turn to the left of my viewing angle and continue to pick up speed. I began to realize what I was seeing was one of the daybreak launches of the Space Shuttle. Incredible I could see it from that far away. After that time, I made it a point to find a spot with a view to the horizon whenever there was a night or morning launch. I have witnessed probably 6 or 7 that way now. Never ceases to amaze me. I did have a scare once though, as I was travelling to work watching it rise on the horizon, I was shocked to see a burst of smoke and then two smaller lines of smoke drifting away from the shuttle. I was terrified of an accident (this was after Challenger) and only later did I figure out I had seen the solid booster separation...whew. Anyway, if you live within several hundred miles, you can see it from a distance if the conditions are right and you can see to the horizon.

Back in the mid 1980s, I used to live near Melbourne, Fl and I often went to see the shuttle liftoff from the causeway near Titusville.

The most exciting launch ever was a night-time launch with the shuttle appearing to blazingly arc over a full moon, as it raced off the pad.

But the day I will always remember, was a bitterly cold morning late in January.

I was working at my desk, mid-morning, when one of the wire clerks tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I wanted to go outside to see the shuttle. I hesitated, as it was quite cold and I had forgotten my jacket when I had left home that morning. But, as a shuttle launch never failed to amaze me, I shrugged off the weather and followed Sara outside.

As we stood waiting on the sidewalk outside the office for that brilliant plume of fire and smoke to rise above the treeline (we were about 50 miles south), I noticed how clear the sky was. With the bright sunshine filling the clear blue sky, it didn't seem that cold anymore.

Just then the top of the shuttle surged skyward...my heart raced as this incredible machine soared towards the heavens. As I watched the familiar sight, however, I began to sense something different...the normal track was closer to the vertical before the shuttle performed its roll and arced into space...this time it was much flatter, more at an angle, as if it was struggling to gain orbit. I nervously waited for the solid-booster separation, my eyes locked onto the column of fire and smoke. I murmured to the girl standing next to me, "there's something wrong...maybe its aborting...and then BAMM!! it exploded in an awful display, the most terrible fireworks I could ever witness. Pieces of the craft streamed in fountains from the center of that deadly burst, an image that even now, 29 years later, is seared into my consciousness.

Sara started to sob and she asked me..."Jamie...where's the shuttle...WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SHUTTLE!

I stammered..."its gone"...tears welling now, as the realization of the enormity of the loss began to sink in.

"its just gone".

May God Bless the crew of the Challenger

I watched a shuttle reenter the atmosphere over Texas several years ago -- utterly amazing a solid glowing plasma trail across the sky - horizon to horizon.

I hope someday to be able to watch a launch in person --- it must be amazing.


I got to be in the gallery a few years ago to watch the space shuttle land. That was certainly something... its good to be friends of a friend of someone who knows an astronaut.

Closest I've been to a launch is Orlando...

I watched a night launch with a shuttle, can't remember what year. Awesome, had the wife and kids with me so quite some time ago.
Could read a paper at 3am, fish in the ocean at shoreline went berzeko !!

I happened to see a night launch of a Delta rocket at Cape Canaveral in March 2003.

Shuttle launch at dawn -- from 300 km!!:

One of the pleasures living in, er, Nool, is watching rocket launches. The one above is one of my favorites.

Most of the time I just go outside and watch/photograph the launch, but twice I have watched a Shuttle launce from 10km.

It is awesome. This impossible thing happens: A thing the size of a building rises up in brilliant light and smoke and utter silence -- for 30 seconds. Then it reaches out and shakes your very bones.

You have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the sheer majesty and mysticism of it.

I always think it's like witnessing the first fish-like thing struggling onto the land -- not yet of the land and no longer of the sea.

Can we even begin to comprehend where it will lead?

Never saw a launch. I hear the Apollo launches were past awsome. Thundering, earth shaking power, with three brave souls risking all for the ride of thier lives.

Sadly, I have never seen a launch. The closest was watching the S-IVB make a turn over our house in Thailand in 1967. It was an incredibly brilliant star and there was even a faint exhaust trail - surprising given the H2-O2 propellant.

I have seen a lot of spent rockets and stages scattered round the outback, plus bits of Skylab :-)


"burn" not "turn. Itwould have been Apollo 4, November 9th, 1967.


Ive seen 2. One was a daytime launch of Challenger in somewhere around 1983/1984. I believe it was the first attempt at direct orbital insertion. I was also luck enough to witness a nightime launch in 1998. I think it was Atlantis. It had been raining all day but me and coworker decided to give it shot since we'd be shooting ourselves if we didn't. Were away on a project at Vero Beach. Managed to get to beach within view of the launchpad about 10 miles away (thanks to some locals at a gas station). The nighttime launch was an entirely different experience and one I will never forget. The entire region lit up as if it were daytime. A reddish offworldly daytime but daytime nonetheless. It was chilly that night and I could actually feel the radient heat on my cheek - from about 10 miles away. I was able to look to my left and right and see miles down the beach as if it were day. Actually saw it punch through a cloud. When the solids separated (clearly visible in 10X binoculars)it looked like a bright white roman candle arching first up and then over the horizon. The light off the main engines actually made it easier to the solids separate. Much clearer than in datime. Truly unforgettable.


I saw two launches when I was in Orlando last year. The first was a Delta II at night. The most amazing thing about it was the sudden acceleration at some point as it was going up, then how it leveled off in space. I'm sure some of the effect had to do with the angle I was observing from, but it reminded me of a roman candle on the 4th of July as it broke through the lower cloud deck.

The second launch I witnessed was the "big heavy" last fall, which happened during the daytime, and all I saw was the smoke trail after it went up which resembled a strange spiral cloud, but it was very large. I took some photos of it, but I can't find them as I write this.

No, but I'd like to see either the next shuttle launch or the launch of MRO. Or both. Both would be good. :D

Many. I live approx. 50 miles east of the Cape, and launches are easily seen from here.

I've seen several shuttle launches from Titusville (there's a nice county park on the Indian River,) and Jetty Park in Cocoa Beach. Saw the first shuttle launch from Jetty Park.

Most spectacular was seeing a night shuttle launch from the causeway. There was an intense thunderstorm about ten, and we thought the launch would be scrubbed for sure. Towards midnight the weather cleared to some extent, the sky filled with various aircraft. About one am, I think, the shuttle launched. Afterwards, one had the feeling that one had witnessed a sunrise and that the breif "day" had somehow, inexplicably, turned back into night.

This was back in the eighties. Don't recall which shuttle, but do remember that it was in orbit when the soviets shot down the Korean airliner.

I've seen launches from Vandenburg on the California coast. I live in San Diego, and I haven't gone out of my way to see the launches - even from SD, you see this spectacular plume glowing high up into the upper atmosphere. It leaves a truly ethereal cloud pattern in it's wake!

They were going to launch shuttles from Vandenburg - alas, that program was cancelled.

I've never seen one. Thinking of trying to see the launch of MRO however.


Here's my shot of the big heavy this past December I was trying to find. The bright spot at the top is the moon, as I recall. I was in Orlando at the time.

By the way, the damage to the roof you see is from the repeat hurricanes last fall. You talk about wild, they were whizzing over our heads like the rockets at the Cape.