Saturday, May 31, 2008

STS-124 Shuttle Discovery Launch

(Click on the photos for larger images.)

We picked a spot across the Indian River from the launch pad near Kennedy Point Park in Titusville, Florida to view the launch of Shuttle Discovery.

Shuttle Discovery clears the launch pad.

The space shuttle cuts through the clouds.

Close-up of Shuttle Discovery.

The path of Shuttle Discovery from the Earth to the roll that aligns it for LEO (Low Earth Orbit).

Travel Recommendations

We opted to spend the night in Titusville rather than fight traffic at 5:45pm, right after Kennedy Space Center closes. Titusville and the immediate area around it called The Space Coast doesn't really have the infrastructure to support the massive amounts of people who travel there for shuttle launches. Restaurants are also over capacity, so we take a cooler loaded with food and water. It is great to have a Sunpass for this trip in particular, because you can drive through the tolls and pay electronically instead of having to stop to pay cash. The Sunpass is a fantastic time saver when all the toll booths are backed up after shuttle launches. I highly recommend avoiding the Bee Line Expressway (FL-528) after a shuttle launch. The toll booths back up for miles and there are no rest areas between Titusville and Orlando.

Road Directions to Gulf Coast After Shuttle Launch

When we do drive home after a shuttle launch we go north of Titusville taking either U.S. Route 1 or I-95 north to SR-46 to drive east towards Sanford. Near Geneva take Oviedo Road (SR- 426) south to FL-417 south. FL-417 is a toll road that takes you around Orlando International Airport and ends directly at I-4, which takes you west to I-75 (today's Dixie Highway) and the Gulf Coast.

Visiting Kennedy Space Center

The best time to visit Kennedy Space Center is on a non-shuttle-launch-day. Traffic is usually no problem in and out of Titusville. If you want to Mapquest the Kennedy Space Center, look up Orsino, Florida.

Related links:
Kennedy Space Center
NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day
NASA: Space Shuttle

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