SpaceX’s rocket launches have attracted millions of online viewers, but space reporter Robin Seemangal says the best way to watch one is in real life.
“I would say to anybody who has an interest in the future, or an interest in space or science, to go down to Kennedy Space Centre or Cape Canaveral to experience this,” Seemangal, editor-in-chief of Supercluster, tells Inverse. “It's life-changing.”
In his six years covering rocket launches, Seemangal has watched SpaceX transform its reputation and establish itself as a key rocket launch firm. Landing a booster after launch, an idea previously dismissed by observers, is now commonplace; SpaceX completed its first landing in 2015, and last year it landed 23 boosters. Seemangal never gets tired of watching the landings.
“The sonic booms are always startling,” he says. “I've seen them multiple times. I get shocked every time.”
Visiting a rocket launch differs for members of the press — like Seemangal — and members of the public. The Kennedy Space Center, which has hosted 32 of SpaceX’s 122 launches, offers tickets on its website to attend events. Event tickets are typically in addition to daily launch tickets, which at the moment cost $57 for ages 12 and up.
SpaceX’s Crew-2 launch, currently scheduled for April 23, gives an example of how these event tickets are structured. The mission will launch four astronauts to the International Space Station using a Falcon 9 rocket and a Crew Dragon capsule. Attendees interested in watching the event can choose from one of three packages:
- The Feel the Heat package. This $195 package includes two-day admission to the visitor complex, meal, souvenirs, and the chance to watch the launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center around 3.9 miles (6.3 kilometers) from the pad.
- The Feel the Fun package. This $115 ticket comes with all of the above, except the viewing takes place at the Space Shuttle Atlantis North Lawn around 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) away from the launch pad.
- The Main Visitor Complex package. This $75 ticket comes with a launch lithograph, two-day admission to the visitor complex, and viewing from the Atlantis South Lot around 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) away from the launch pad.
But getting the ticket is just the beginning. Fans will need to prepare for obstacles and delays from the unlikeliest of sources — perhaps even from nail polish.
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