Viewing Delta launches - was Iridium Launch & Flare from VAFB

Philip Chien (
Sun, 9 Nov 1997 19:09:37 -0400

Brian Webb <> said:

>The advantage of being a reporter for a Delta II launch is that you're
>allowed to get about 25 feet closer to the pad than the general public.

25 feet???  Sheesh!

For the Delta launches at the Cape the press site is actually within the
Impact Limit Lines (about a mile from the pad), but the press is considered
part of the launch team, so we're there under an exemption as launch
critical personnel.  There are discussions underway to move the press site
to the Trident turn basin at the south end of the Cape, not that far from
the publicly accessible areas.  About the only advantage to that site is
you have a straight line of sight to the Atlas, Delta, and LMLV launch pads.

The Complex 17 blockhouse was abandoned after the Delta 241 accident.  The
'soft blockhouse' had been planned for some time and its completion was
accelerated to bring it online a couple of months earlier than originally
planned.  So the only folks closer than the press site for the current
Delta launches are some security guards and contractor photographers.

The VIP viewing site for Deltas and Atlases is located in the middle of the
Cape, close to the 'skid strip' about twice as far from the launch pads.
It also has the disadvantage of obstructions in the way, primarily trees.

>From what I understand the LMLV-2 launch of the Lunar Prospector spacecraft
in January will have an unusual trajectory - straight up.  As opposed to
most rockets which go downrange over the ocean.  The LMLV-2 trajectory will
result in a unusual impact limit lines - if the rocket fails two minutes in
to the mission it's quite conceivable that debris could fall over almost
any portion of the Cape Canaveral Air Station!

As far as the latest Iridium launch I watched it on the satellite feed,
rather pretty but certainly nothing like watching them in person.

And if anybody did get a decent time exposure of the launch plus the
Iridium flare *PLEASE* contact me.  I'm certain Sky&Tel would want to
publish it.

Philip Chien [M1959.05.31/31.145//]