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This FAQ file answers Frequently Asked Questions about viewing a launch of both Space Shuttles and unmanned rockets from the Kennedy Space Center, and the Cape Canaveral Air Station (known collectively as The Canaveral Spaceport), as well as other web sites of interest. Hyperlinks are provided to points of interest at NASA, and the US Air Force which operate launch facilities. Subjects covered include the best places to park, and photo tips. Some slightly "off-subject" categories (such as how to visit the Kennedy Space Center, and how to become an Astronaut) are also covered, because people have asked.

The Space Launch FAQ is provided as a service by Spacey Ideas, A consulting firm that can put a "space spin" on your product, or marketing plan. Please E-Mail us at Ozzie@Spaceyideas.Com

The choices on this page will jump you to the answers, which are farther along in this document. Please feel free to submit questions. Please allow 7 to 10 days for a reply.

Clicking on any of the questions below will take you to the answer, which is further along in this document.

Choosing any question will jump you to the appropriate area in the document below.

When are the next Space Shuttle launches?

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Kennedy Space Center
Shuttle Launch Viewing tickets

Click for information on viewing a Space Shuttle launch from the Kennedy Space Center
Great launch viewing is
also available from
Space View Park
in Titusville FL
[STS-127 mission insignia]
STS-127 Atlantis


Mark L. Polansky - Commander
Douglas G. Hurley - Pilot
Christopher J. Cassidy - Mission Specialist 1
Thomas H. Marshburn - Mission Specialist 2
David A. Wolf - Mission Specialist 3
Julie Payette - Mission Specialist 4 - CSA
Timothy Kopra - Flight Engineer 2 (Up)
Koichi Wakata - Flight Engineer - JAXA (Down)

Relevant information sources:

When are the next unmanned rocket launches?
These launches take place at the Cape Canaveral Air Station just north of Jetty Park (the best public viewing site for unmanned missile launches) at Port Canaveral. Join the members of LISATS (Launch Information Service and Amateur Television System) on State Route 528 to view a launch. Listen to their ham radio repeater on 146.940 MHz for launch coverage.

Manned missions are included in this list for ease of planning.

Launch Downloads
Click to Download
a printable Launch Schedule

Fold in half, and in half again for a
pocket sized launch schedule

Click to Download
an E-Book of the Launch Schedule

to have on your Palm Pilot, or other PDA.

Click here for free e-book reader software for Palm Pilots, Windows, Windows Mobile, Macintosh, OQO, and Symbian OS (Nokia).

  • GOES O, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite
    • Booster: Delta IV
    • Launch date: 2009-06-26, 6:14 PM EDT (22:14 UTC)

    To find out when Holds and Scrubs occur during this launch, have
    text messages sent to your mobile phone. Sign up at UPOC.Com

  • STS-127, International Space Station Flight 2J/A, will deliver modules to the Japanese Kibo Laboratory.
  • PAN, A classified satellite
    • Booster: Atlas V
    • Launch date: 2009-08-12, 4:55 PM EDT (20:55 UTC)

  • NAVSTAR 2R-21 (M8) GPS Satellite, Global Positioning System Satellite
    • Booster: Delta II
    • Launch date: 2009-08-17

  • STS-128, International Space Station Flight 17A, to deliver a Multi Purpose Logistics Module containing supplies, equipment, experiments, and the COLBERT Treadmill.
  • Ares 1-X, Prototype rocket for engineering tests of the first stage for the Constellation Program. Maximum altitude: 25 Miles
    • Booster: Ares 1
    • Launch date: 2009-08-30, 7:00 AMEDT (11:00 UTC)

  • STSS, Space Tracking and Surveillance System for the Missile Defense Agency.
    • Booster: Delta II
    • Launch date: 2009-08-xx

  • Wideband Global Satcom 3, A data communications satellite for the Department of Defense
    • Booster: Delta IV
    • Launch date: 2009-09-xx

  • Intelsat 14, International Communications Satellite
    • Booster: Atlas V
    • Launch date: 2009-09-xy

  • STS-129, International Space Station components including spare gyroscopes, nitrogen tank assemblies, pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly and a spare latching end effector for the station's robotic arm.
  • SDO, Solar Dynamics Observatory. The first Space Weather Research Network mission in NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) Program.
    • Booster: Atlas V
    • Launch date: 2009-11-24

  • STS-130, Endeavour will deliver the final connecting node, Tranquility, and the Cupola.
  • NAVSTAR 2F-1, Global Positioning System Satellite
    • Booster: Delta IV
    • Launch date: 2010-02-xx

  • STS-131, Atlantis will carry a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module filled with science racks that will be transferred to laboratories of the International Space Station.
  • STS-132, Discovery mission will carry an integrated cargo carrier to deliver maintenance and assembly hardware, including spare parts for space station systems.
  • STS-133, Endeavour will deliver critical spare components including antennas and gas tanks to the International Space Station.
  • STS-134, Discovery will deliver an EXPRESS Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3) and an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station.
    * - An asterisk on Launch Time means a launch date has been announced by NASA, but the time of launch was calculated by SpaceLaunchInfo.Com based on the rendevous requirements for the mission.

This Launch Schedule is available in Palm E-Book format for Personal Digital Assistants and Smartphones.
Click here for free e-book reader software for Palm Pilots; Windows, Windows Mobile, Macintosh, and Symbian OS (Nokia).

Last Updated 2009-06-21
Information provided by SpaceLaunchInfo.Com, and compiled from reports at SpaceflightNow.Com

This page is updated from information provided by the SpaceFlight Now launch schedule. We also check Space.Com, and their Extended Launch Forcast. Florida Today, the newspaper of record of the Space Coast, also has a schedule.

Where's the best place to park to see a Space Shuttle launch?
Titusville, without a doubt, is the best place to see a Space Shuttle launch, if you haven't got a NASA pass! While Cocoa Beach used to be best during the Mercury and Gemini days, the Apollo program moved things "up the coast", to Launch Complex 39 - directly across the Indian River from Space View Park in Titusville. Besides being part of the Space Walk-Of-Fame project, this lovely park is located two blocks south of State Route 406 (Garden Street - Exit 219 from Interstate 95), at Broad St and the Indian River. Adjacent Veteran's Memorial Park usually has a loud speaker with NASA's audio commentary (I usually watch launches from here). Many people also return launch after launch to the area of US-1 and State Route 50.

Where's the best place to park to see an unmanned launch?
Delta's, and Atlas' still launch from Cape Canaveral Air Station, and are closer to Cocoa Beach. Jetty Park is a county park with a public campgrounds, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Port Canaveral channel. It is a great place to see unmanned launches. The day after a Shuttle launch you can come here and see the SRB's (Solid Rocket Boosters) being towed through this channel, back to the Kennedy Space Center behind the recovery ships.

  • There's a spot along State Route 528 under on of the bridges where LISATS, the Launch Information Service and Amateur Television System (a ham radio club) gathers to watch the launch, and puts the NASA Audio out over a PA System. Click for directions. Tune in their Ham Repeater on 146.940 MHz.

  • Click here for information on Receiving Launch Holds and Scrub Information via Cellphone. This service, provided by SpaceLaunchInfo.Com, will inform you of unexpected holds in the countdown, or if a launch is "scrubbed" (cancelled) for the day.

Can I see a Space Shuttle landing?
You can see daytime landings from Titusville (we like watching from Space View Park). However, it's like watching a DC-9 landing at an airport 10 miles away (in other words, it will look really small). Most Shuttle Orbiters land from south to north, and if you can't see it before, you can watch it pass directly in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building on it's final approach to the Shuttle Landing Facility runway.

Night Landings are another thing entirely. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SEE A NIGHT LANDING, because you will be terribly disappointed. I have tried this, and there is nothing to see, since the Shuttle has no landing lights, nor even navigation blinkers. You can see the Shuttle Training Aircraft making landing passes an hour or more before the Shuttle landing, but it has navigation blinkers. When you hear the twin sonic booms, turn on the TV, because TV cameras have Infra-Red lenses. It's what the locals do.

How can I get a car pass to see a launch "up close" at the Kennedy Space Center?
By writing at least one month in advance to NASA, Mail Code PA-PASS, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899.

Sorry, car passes are no longer available. You can purchase launch tickets from the KSC Visitor Complex in advance, park in their parking lot, and be bussed to a good vantage point.

Close is relative, however. NASA VIP Guests (visiting dignitaries, and astronaut's families) get passes for a viewing site 3 miles from the launch pad. The bus tickets get you on the causeway that crosses the Banana River between the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station about 7 miles from the pad. Space View Park in Titusville is about 10 miles from Launch Complex 39.

What local radio or television stations cover launches from the Cape?
WMFE, 90.7 FM, will carry coverage of the launch about 5 minutes before launch. WMEL 920 AM from Melbourne is a good place to listen on your car radio. WMMB on 1240 AM comes in from Melbourne or 1350 AM from Cocoa, but you'll need the outdoor antenna on your car radio to pick it up. The advantage is that WMEL has audio for unmanned launches as well as manned Shuttle flights. Local TV stations, Channel 2, Channel 6, & Channel 9, all carry the launch live starting about 3 to 5 minutes before launch. TV Coverage will usually end shortly after the Solid Rocket Boosters drop off the Space Transportation System about 2 minutes after launch.

NASA Webcams on Launch Complex 39 (RealPlayer required). Also, Other NASA Viso Channels

If you have access to a satellite dish, try to catch NASA Select Television. It's on Direct TV Channel 376 and Dish Network Channel 213.

The NASA Headquarters TV Page is also available. (Thanks to LISATS for the update)

Can I pick up anything on my radio scanner?
Thanks to dedicated local Ham Radio operators of the Launch Information Service and Amateur Television System (LISATS), you can hear the NASA public affairs channel called "NASA Select" on the K4GCC ham radio repeater on a frequency of 146.940 MHz. You might also hear some of the usual "ham chatter" on this frequency.

Many shuttle missions now carry Ham Radio on board and can be heard on a radio scanner as the spacecraft passes overhead. ARISS, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station is usually found on 145.800 MHz. Please e-mail Ozzie@SpaceLaunchInfo.Com for more information.

How can I photograph the launch?
First, load your camera with a good film. ASA 100 is fine. If you are going to shoot a sequence of photos showing the shuttle as it clears the launch pad, set your camera shutter speed to 1/500 of a second, and set your arpature to f/8. If your cameras has a motor drive, use it. Always put your camera on a tripod if you can. If not, you could probably get away with hand holding it. Always make sure you have fresh, new batteries in your camera.

What about photographing a night launch?
Night launches can be really spectacular, provided they are shot correctly. For the most spectacular shot (a time exposure shot), you should have a 35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera, a tripod, cable release, and the right film.

The "day photography" rules still apply for single shots, since a shuttle launch will give off a lot of light, and look very much like sunrise over the Kennedy Space Center. The 100 ASA film will still work just fine. Set your camera shutter speed to 1/250 of a second, and set your arpature to f/8. Don't forget the motor wind if you have one.

You must have a tripod to do a time exposure shot. You need to set up a separate camera for this shot, but the effect will be worth it. This will show the flight path the shuttle takes as it climbs into orbit. A lens 35mm in size or smaller works best for this. Frame the launch pad in the lower right hand side of your view finder if you're in Titusville or along the Indian River, the lower left if you're in Cocoa Beach or at Jetty Park. If launching for a "high inclination orbit", then all photo sites should frame the pad in the lower left. Set your shutter dial to B, and close your cameras arpature to f/16.

Attach a cable release and get ready. Seconds before the launch, open the shutter by squeezing the cable release and lock it. Keep the shutter open throughout the launch. Four to five minutes later, release the cable release. This closes the shutter. Advance the film. The one drawback is that you only get one picture using this method.  However, if done properly, it makes for a really great photo.

What else should I know about attending a launch?
You should know that traffic will be horrendous immediately after a launch. Bring a picnic no matter what time of day you come out to watch the launch. Just make it a picnic breakfast, lunch, or dinner as appropriate for the time of day. There can be up to 2-1/2 hours of launch delays before the rocket either launches, or "scrubs" for the day. Bring coloring books and activity kits for children. Look around your potential viewing site for bathrooms (which are available at Space View Park where the I like to watch launches). Don't forget to bring sun tan lotion, as well as bug & mosquito repellent.

NASA Vector Patch NASA Vector Patch

The Vector logo is the official and original NASA logo created in 1959 and revived in 1992. Nicknamed the 'meatball,’ the sphere represents a planet, the stars represent space, the red vector represents aeronautics & the orbit represents space travel. 3 inches

Where can I find details about the Space Shuttle?
The Space Shuttle News Reference was a notebook-sized book NASA put together as a recource for journalists. I has been put on the web as a reference.

Is it really Cape Canaveral, or Cape Kennedy?
It's really Cape Canaveral, as it has been since the first Spanish explorers came through the region in the early 1500's. Cape Canaveral was called Cape Canaveral long before Cape Cod was called Cape Cod.

Shortly after the assassination of President John F Kennedy in 1963, Congress, in a fit of zeal, renamed the cape after the fallen president. Years later, Congress was made aware of the historical significance and relationship of the names (as well as the International Treaties regarding the naming of maritime landmarks), and renamed it back to Cape Canaveral. Many people in the media who were here during the Apollo moon program still refer to it by it's temporary name. (Personally, I wouldn't mind if the folks in Massachusetts renamed their cape for the Local Boy, but they'd run into the same "Maritime Landmark" name problem)

What are the jurisdictions involved at The Cape?
"The Cape" covers a large area, and is made up of four major jurisdictions. There is the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station operated by the US Air Force, where the first rockets left Florida for space. There's the Kennedy Space Center farther North and West, operated by NASA where all the Apollo moon shots launched from, and where all Space Shuttle Launches take place. Farther North along the coast than that is Playalinda Beach, which is part of the Canaveral National Seashore of the National Parks Service. But one jurisdiction covers most of them. All NASA & Park Service lands at Cape Canaveral are covered as part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge of the US Department of the Interior, National Wildlife Service (you might keep in mind that those alligators and poisonous snakes out there are protected by law - you're not!). The city of Cape Canaveral is located south of the Port Canaveral Channel, and north of Cocoa Beach.

How can I get an envelope postmarked as a souvenir?
For envelopes (called "covers" by collectors) cancelled from the Kennedy Space Center, send your covers to Postmaster, Kennedy Space Center Cancellations, Titusville FL 32780. For postmarks from Cape Canaveral, send your covers to Postmaster, Cape Canaveral FL 32920 (this is actually the post office in the city of Cape Canaveral about 10 miles south of the nautical Cape, and just north of Cocoa Beach). Visit the The American Philatelic Society and the Space Topic Study Unit of the American Topical Association for more information.

What's the best way to "do" the Kennedy Space Center?

Admission Prices to the
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Standard Admission$31.00 Adult
$21.00 Child
Admission to the grounds of the Visitor Complex and Rocket Gardern w/ Imax Movie. Also a bus tour and the Saturn V Center.
Maximum Access Pass$38.00 Adult
$28.00 Child
This is a Two Day Pass. Includes above, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame and it's simulators.
Astonaut Hall Of Fame Only$17.00 Adult
$13.00 Child
Personal momentos of the astronauts. Spacecraft from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Mission Simulator amusement rides are included in your admission.
12 Month Pass$48.00 Adult
$32.00 Child
Come and go whenever you like for 12 months (Locals like this one)
Extra Admission Charges:
Lunch with An Astronaut$22.95 Adult
$15.95 Child
Friendly conversation and a photo opportunity
NASA Up Close$22.00 Adult
$16.00 Child
A More personal tour of facilities at the Kennedy Space Center. Includes areas no longer on the Bus Tour. Requires purchase of Standard or Maximum Access Pass
Canaveral Then and Now$22.00 Adult
$18.00 Child
A personalized tour of the Missle and Rocket Museum at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Requires purchase of Standard or Maximum Access Pass
Combo Pass$52.99 Adult
$36.99 child
Includes "Maximum Access" and either "Canaveral Then and Now" or "NASA Close Up"
Security Proceedures In Place

Leave your pocket knife in the car or bus, since they'll only make you walk back to the parking lot to leave it.

If you haven't been to the Space Center in a few years, everything has changed. For one thing, entrance to the KSC Visitor Complex at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is no longer free. The good news is, the Bus Tour is included in the admission price.

Of course, while you're there, you've got to see an Imax Movie! Once you enter the Main Entrance, pick up a "Schedule Of Events". Things you don't want to miss are the "Astronaut Encounter" where you will get to hear an actual Astronaut speak. For an extra charge, you can even have lunch with him or her! You also want to catch an IMAX movie. The thing is, you have to be on the road for a few hours on the bus tour.

The extra cost bus tour Cape Canaveral, Then and Now takes you to the historic sights of the Cape Canaveral Air Station (including the Air Force Space & Missile Museum) where America's first rockets and astronauts left the Earth. The regular tour takes you through the Apollo Moon Rockets, and Space Shuttle areas. The tour bus takes you to the Saturn V Center, where one of the last Apollo moon rockets resides to amaze visitors. This was a rocket that should have taken astroanuts to the moon, but funding was cut off.

Don't forget the Imax movie! You need to see at least one of them to make your visit complete.

Of course, there are plenty of exhibits to see as well at the main Visitor Complex. The Space Shuttle Explorer is a full scale mock-up of a real space shuttle orbiter. It is painted, and even configured to appear to be a spacecraft that has just returned form a space mission. Shuttle pilots have gone in and made sure that the switches are all thrown in the same positions they are in at "wheel's stop" on the Shuttle Landing Facility when they return home from a mission. Don't miss that obscure looking dome behind the orbiter. They explain many of the shuttle's systems there. Oh, did I mention that you should see an Imax movie before you leave the Visitor's Complex?

After leaving the KSC Visitors Complex, you'll notice the Astronaut Hall of Fame with the full scale Space Shuttle Orbiter model outside. This museum was set up by the Mercury 7 foundation, and is supported by the astronauts themselves. Now operated by the same people that run the KSC Visitor Complex, this museum is included in your Visitor Complex Maximum Access Pass. Be sure to hang on to your ticket.

The Hall of Fame contains personal momentos of the astronauts themselves. It also has actual space capsules from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. If you're staying in the area, consider this a stop on your second day.

Once you get to US-1, drive north through Titusville to County Road 402 to reach The Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Their Visitor's Center explains the diverse wildlife that migrates through, or lives in the Refuge. This road also takes you to Playalinda Beach at the Canaveral National Seashore and is a great place to spend a day - but bring everything you need with you. There are rest rooms out there, but no vendors or "civilized" development (most people pick up fast food, and sodas "to-go" in Titusville on their way out - the fried chicken place at US-1 and CR-402 is my usual stop). It's best to park in one of the parking lots nearest the launch gantry towers. They make the best photographic backgrounds!

Ride the Indian River Queen Paddle Boat
Call now, and ask about our Launch Cruises

How can I become an Astronaut?
Here's what NASA's Johnson Space Center had to say on the subject a few years ago:
Any adult man or woman in excellent physical condition who meets the basic qualifications can be selected to enter astronaut training.

For mission specialists and pilot astronauts, the minimum requirements include a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or mathematics from an accredited institution. Three years of related experience must follow the degree, and an advanced degree is desirable. Pilot astronauts must have at least 1,000 hours of experience in jet aircraft, and they need better vision than mission specialists. Competition is extremely keen, with an average of over 4,000 applicants for about 20 openings every 2 years.

Astronaut recruiting occurs periodically. For more information, write to the Astronaut Selection Office, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058.

Astronauts are usually selected once every two years. Please click here for my own opinions on this subject.

How can I participate in the Space Program?
You don't need to be an astronaut to participate in the space program. You can tune in space satellites with radios you can buy at your local Radio Shack store. You can even talk to the Astronauts and Cosmonauts if you get your Ham Radio license. This is because ham radio is one of the few hobbies you can take with you to the International Space Station. AMSAT, the Amateur Radio Satellite Organization is made up of ham radio operators who build their own satellites, and launch them as secondary payloads with various rockets that go into space. Contact the American Radio Relay League, or a local ham radio club for more information. You can also request an information packet by e-mailing newham@arrl.org

If you want to see who has been sending messages via the Packet Radio system aboard the International Space Station, click here for a list of Ham Operators via the International Space Station. All are identified by their Ham Radio call signs.

If you thought you were too young to participate in the space program, there is KidSat, a program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Another way you can really help the space program is by writing letters to your Congressman, and to both U S Senators from your state, and let them know that you want them to support the NASA Budget. NASA can't fly missions, without the funding from Congress.

Where can I find out about the International Space Station?
The International Space Station Page is the best place to start. You can also get the Space Station Operators Manual from Amazon.com. There is also ISS Fan Club of ham radio operators, and other interested people.

What is the construction schedule for the International Space Stateion?
You can find the schedule at SEDS.Org. SpaceRef.Com has The Space Station Users Guide that might be worth looking at as well. Here's a Flash® look at how the Station came together.

Where can I find out about the Russian space program?
Here's a few web sites to check out:

What will follow the Space Shuttle?
The Constellation Program consists of the Orion Crew Module and the Ares Launch Vehicles. Orion looks alot like the old Apollo capsules, but constructed with much more modern technology. The Ares booster rockets take advantage of Solid Rocket Booster and External Tank technologies used for decades by the Space Shuttle, speeding their development.
(Click for an Ares 1-X Status Report as of 2008-12-21)

A group of "renegade NASA Engineers" have proposed a program called Jupiter DIRECT that they claim can be built and launched two or three years sooner than the Ares rocket using parts "DIRECTly" used on the Space shuttle program. (Wikipedia article about Jupiter DIRECT)

Where can I find out about the Hubble Space Telescope?
The most authoritative place is the Space Telescope Science Institute. A good site for Hubble photographs is The Hubble Photo Archive.

Where can I find photographs from NASA Space Missions?
One good place to start is the Nasa Image eXchange. The NIX has pictures from Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Shuttle programs, as well as from unmanned probes such as Pathfinder, Galileo, Voyager, Ranger, Surveyor, and Pioneer. And don't forget NASA's aeronautics programs as well!

Other places for good space photograohs are the Hubble Space Telescope Gallery, Hubble Space Telescope Public Pictures, and the Space Station Photo Gallery

Can I see space satellites from my back yard?
Space Station current location
Intl Space Station
orbital location
Yes. Before dawn, and after sundown are the two times a day when you can view satellites passing overhead. This is because you are in darkness (the sun hasn't come up yet, or has just set), while the satellite you are viewing is still in sunlight (it has left the Earth's shadow, or hasn't entered it yet). DLR, a German aerospace research center, has set up a web site called Heavens Above. If you live near one of 5,000 locations, you don't need to know your lattitude & longitude, and it will tell you when you can see the International Space Station, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

When you go out into the yard to look for a satellite, remember that the time it gives you is when it comes over the horizon. It will be a couple of minutes before it's high enough in the sky to be visible. It will appear as a moving star. If you have a radio scanner, remember that the Amateur Radio Station on the International Space Station can sometimes be heard on 145.800 MHz while it is above the horizon.

NASA suggests you can Host A Star Party where you can invite your friends over on a clear evening, and view the Space Sation going overhead.

How can I know when a satellite will be visible?
You can download programs such as TrakSat. Using the "Analytical" mode, it will predict when satellites will be visible from your location. You'll need to download fresh "Keplerian elements", the mathematical variables the program needs to calculate the orbit of satellites. If you have a hand-held Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) using the Palm OS, you can download PocketSat+. You can also get Palm Compatible Keps

Why are the "launch windows" so short for rendezvous missions?
Missions that rendezvous with the International Space Station, or other satellites like the Hubble Space Telescope can save fuel (and have more room for payload) if they wait until the ground track for the spacecraft they want to rendezvous with passes overhead. Then they launch into a slightly lower orbit, and chase down the target. You get the right time to launch twice a day, but one time will be more optimal than the other (due to climactic conditions at The Cape), and that's when mission planners will schedule the flight for. You can also read A NASA provided explanation.

When it lands, is it still a "Space Shuttle"?
Space Shuttle Program Patch
Space Shuttle Program Patch

The "Space Transportation System" (The STS in the Mission Numbers), commonly known as the Space Shuttle, has three major components.

  1. The Orbiter (Discovery, Atlantis, or Endeavour)
  2. The External Tank (ET)
  3. The Solid Rocket Bosters (SRB)

In the VAB (Vertical Assembly Building), "The Stack" comes together. Once assembled, The Stack becomes a Space Shuttle. what the public doesn't realize is, once the Solids drop off after two minutes of flight, it is no longer considered a Space Shuttle. NASA launches a Space Shuttle, but recovers an Orbiter. ("Recovering" an aircraft by having it land is a military term adopted by the space agency)

The reasoning behind it, we suspect, is the number of Contractors that provide parts for just the SRBs who are considered Space Shuttle parts providers. Once you drop the SRBs, you lose alot of your Team. The Program Patch for the Space Shuttle shows all three major components.

What are those "funny mission designations" between STS-9 and STS-26?
At one time, there were plans to launch Space Shuttles from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. Mission designators looked like this:
  Last digit of the Fiscal Year-------------------/||
  Launch Location (1 for KSC, 2 for VAFB)----------/|
  Alpha designator (L=12)---------------------------/
  12th flight of the 1985 fiscal budget year.
  KSC = Kennedy Space Center VAFB = Vandenburg Air Force Base
The designators were dropped after the 2-1/2 year gap between the Challenger incident (STS-51L), and the STS-26 "Return To Space". If you'd like an unprofessional opinon about this system of mission designations, I'd persionally say it did what it was designed to do. It got the public past any possible "STS-13" designation. Comparisons with Apollo-13 would not have been appreciated.

Where can I find out how to use NASA derived technology in my manufacturing plant?
OK, we're not talking about your "school student doing a term paper" type of information here. We're talking Industrial Strength Technology Transfer from the government sector to private industry. You can start by checking out the NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) on the World Wide Web. Or you can jump to the NASA Scientific & Technical Information (STI) web site. Also worth looking into are the SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) and the STTR (Small business Technology TRansfer) programs. NASA Patents can be found at the NASA Tech Briefs Magazine web site.

Mars: The NASA Mission Reports
You can buy
Mars: The NASA Mission Reports

Where can I find out about the Mars probes?
JPL, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories is the NASA Center that designs, and controls planetary missions, including to Mars.
The Mars Society - Join Us!
The Mars Society is also a good place to find information on people who are researching how to go to The Red Planet.

What Planetary Probes can I find information on?
Cassini was launched on 1997 October 15 to Saturn, via Venus (twice), Earth, and Jupiter in order to use their gravity pick up the additional velocity needed to get to Saturn. Expect to see some "Tourist Snapshots" as the spacecraft comes up on these "Kodak Moments" (have I mentioned I'm originally from Rochester NY?). The NASA Image Exchange is also a good place to look.

Where can I find a list of colleges that will lead to a job in the Space Program?
The AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the professional society for aerospace engineers) has Student Chapters across the country. Schools having a Student Chapter would be a good place to start looking for schools with a future in the Space Program (Even Neil Armstrong was once a Student Member of the AIAA).

Do you happen to know the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of any astronomy sites? Starry Night Enthusiast 6.2 Astronomy Software
Here's a few lists of Astronomy sites that I found using the Alta Vista Search Engine. If you know of others that should be here, please e-mail Ozzie, the Webmaster to let him know.

Could you give me a site that has the statistics of the dates various space probes were launched as well as where and when?
Check out Chronology of Lunar and Planetary Exploration. There's also the NASA History Site (and don't forget to check the Topical Index there)

Did people really go to the moon, or did they "fake it" on TV?
Yes, "Men from the planet Earth set foot upon the moon", just as it says on the plaque that is mounted in the Lander portion of the Lunar Module that still sits at Tranquility Base on the moon. Visit the Moon Base Clavius web site (which uses the movie "2001, A Space Odyssey" for it's namesake, and graphic look) which debunks the "They Faked It" theories.

Who are the guys with a "USA" logo on their jump-suits that I've seen on the NASA Select channel on my cable system?
"Those Guys" work for United Space Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Rockwell International who teamed together to win the contract to support the Space Shuttle program. Boeing became involved when it bought Rockwell's aerospace business. NASA really does very little at The Cape, but instead it hires Contractors to do most of the work. Bidding on government contracts is what fuels the economy, and competition among contractors is what (supposedly) lowers the cost. Thanx for asking, Chris.

Why does the shuttle orbiter "roll" to the bottom shortly after launch?
The Space Shuttle "rolls over" onto it's back to reach orbit for almost the same reason an airplane turns after leaving the runway. That is, in order to turn into the direction it wishes to go.

While an airplane does not "roll over" like the Space Shuttle, airplanes don't travel above the atmosphere! In going from 0 to 17,500 miles per hour in just 8 minutes, the "vector of thrust" (the direction that the rocket engines push) must go from the rocket engines (at the bottom of the orbiter), through the center of gravity of the entire Space Transportation System (Orbiter, External Tank, and Solid Rocket Boosters). This means that the engines need to be "underneath" the Shuttle as it blasts through the atmosphere, overcoming the Earth's gravity, until it gets to orbit, where gravity doesn't mean as much any more. In the process of "going uphill" (as the astronauts call it), the crew is pretty much "upside-down" in their seats! However, with 3 G's (three gravities) of acceleration of the launch pushing them into their seats they hardly notice the 1 G of force in the "wrong" direction on their way "up" to orbit.

There is also a NASA provided answer to this question, and also a good animation of a Shuttle launch at NASAkids.Com.

Are those shirts I've seen the astronauits wear on orbit available for sale?
While the shirts the astronauts take up with them are specially flame-proofed, a company is finally making them available to Earth-bound personnel. Click on the link to Countdown Creations. (Toddler thru adult XL sizes available.) for more details.

Shop at Countdown Creations!

Can you please list our space related product or website on your web page?
The idea here is to link users with web sites they have a hard time finding on their own. I'm adding things as I run across them. Please e-mail me with your comments on this section. Such sites include:
  • Titusville's Space Walk-Of-Fame. Located in Space View Park, the Space Walk Of Fame honors not only the astronauts, but all the support personnel on the ground who made the flights possible. This is also a great place to watch Shuttle Launches from.
  • The Astronaut Hall Of Fame, Operated on behalf of the Mercury 7 Foundation (an educational foundation formed by Americas first astronauts), this interactive museum of the manned space program contains memorabilia donated by the astronauts themselves in the hopes it will inspire the young men & women who will be the astronauts of tomorrow. A recent remodeling has included some "action rides" that simulate Astronaut training.
  • North Brevard Business Directory, the ultimate site for information on what's in Titusville FL, Space City USA!
  • The International Women's Air and Space Museum, Cleveland OH. And I'll bet you thought Cleveland was just "Rock & Roll"!
  • SpaceDay, Held on the first Thursday of May of each year, SpaceDay is an annual observance of May, 1963 when President John F Kennedy challenged America "To send a man to the moon... and return him safely to the Earth". This date is during the school year, where July 20th (anniversary of the first Moon landing) is not.
  • Space.Com This is the "Space News" portal of choice.
  • Spacecraft Films, makes new digital transfers of holdings from the National Archives, National Air and Space Museum, military and private collectors and keeps the material digital to DVD disc, providing you with the clearest view possible into into America's proud legacy in space.
  • Orbital Network Engineering, a leader in providing satellite telemetry and data acquisition systems for processing bpsk and qpsk communications formats.
  • Maxwell Technologies. Need a radiation hardened Single Board Computer for that satellite, Get Away Special, or space shuttle experiment you're building? Checkout the SBC's offerred by Maxwell Technologies.
  • The Oasis Science Fiction Convention will be held in Orlando FL over Memorial Day weekend.
  • Launch Complex Models, Follow the links to the great launch gantrys of the past. These models are not cheap, but are highly detailed.
  • Rocket Models, These scale model replicas of real spacecraft can be loaded with model rocket engines and flown!
  • Final Frontier Beef Jerky. You can order the beef jerky enjoyed on-orbit by STS-79 astronauts at the Mir Space Station. Final Frontier Beef Jerky has even been recently deployed to the International Space Station!
  • Get a discount when ordering - jot down Flying Saucer Coupon Code RO990113, and enter it into their Order Form.
    Flying Saucers Gourmet Coffee & Tea. They have over 70 flavors and varieties of coffee in collectible, award winning, space-ship packaging. Makes a great gift!
  • McCall Studios, the online gallery of Robert McCall - America's premier space artist.
  • Novagraphics, a gallery of Space Art.
  • Rick Sternbach, a space artist of some repute, and an old buddy of mine (we watched STS-1 land at Edwards Air Force Base together, and he got half of my space suit)
  • Lunar Dust, more space art. Ron Woods lives on the Florida Space Coast.
  • Gator Tours (407) 522 5911 runs tour buses from Orlando Attraction area hotels to the Kennedy Space Center daily, and Launch Viewing Specials that you'll have to ask them about.
  • Rocket Hobo patch ($7.00 each plus 3.00 S&H) may be ordered by sending a check or money order to Space Walk Of Fame Gift Shop, 4 Main St, Titusville FL 32796.

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This page was created and is maintained by Robert Osband, N4SCY, originator of Area Code 321. Photography tips were provided by SpaceLaunch News photographer Jimmy Brown.
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