Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing  (Read 30786 times)

Offline ChrisC

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SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« on: 01/09/2017 06:27 PM »
Up to now, we've had viewing threads for each Vandenberg launch, but since a lot of the info is the same each time, we're going to start a thread for viewing of VAFB launches in general.

To start, here is the viewing thread for the launch of Jason-3 in Jan 2016:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39176.0

And here's the viewing thread for the launch of CASSIOPE in Sept 2013: 
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32534.0

Finally, here's an EXCELLENT reference for VAFB launch viewing, similar to Ben Cooper's writeup for the eastern range launches, which I am constantly pointing people to:
http://www.spacearchive.info/vafbview.htm

As I get time, I'll copy important facts / references out of the posts below (and the earlier threads) and edit them into this first post.  But for now even just reading through the above links (especially the last one) should answer all the obvious questions.

EDIT:  I have also collected some links about the Long Beach berthing location, including some webcam links:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42052.msg1630947#msg1630947
« Last Edit: 01/21/2017 08:04 PM by ChrisC »
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Offline SeriousCallersOnly

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #1 on: 01/11/2017 08:45 PM »
I watched Jason 3 (as I recall) launch from Providence Landing Park.  It was a great spot and filled with fanatical SpaceX employees.  :)  Here's the address:

699 Mercury Avenue, Lompoc, CA 93436

and a link to google maps:

Mercury Ave, Lompoc, CA

Edit/Lar: fix long link

« Last Edit: 01/11/2017 09:52 PM by Lar »

Offline dglow

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #2 on: 01/11/2017 09:16 PM »
As has been stated before, a dream viewing location would be the Amtrak parking lot at the end of Ocean Ave. <sigh>

Can someone recall the exact spot where Ocean is closed on launch days... is it the Arguello intersection?

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #3 on: 01/11/2017 09:25 PM »

I watched Jason 3 (as I recall) launch from Providence Landing Park.  It was a great spot and filled with fanatical SpaceX employees.  :)  Here's the address:

699 Mercury Avenue, Lompoc, CA 93436

and a link to google maps:

Please shorten the Google link, as below:  Google can find it without the rest of the link, and the long link messes up the forum formatting.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/699+Mercury+Ave,+Lompoc,+CA+93436/

Online Lar

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #4 on: 01/11/2017 09:57 PM »

I watched Jason 3 (as I recall) launch from Providence Landing Park.  It was a great spot and filled with fanatical SpaceX employees.  :)  Here's the address:

699 Mercury Avenue, Lompoc, CA 93436

and a link to google maps:

Please shorten the Google link, as below:  Google can find it without the rest of the link, and the long link messes up the forum formatting.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/699+Mercury+Ave,+Lompoc,+CA+93436/


Or, alternatively, leave the link long but use the URL tag, like this (change {} to [] )

{url=https://insanely.long.link.com/super/cool/but/pedantic/and/verbose/link/crazy.js?someParm=Lar}short form{/url}

which will appear like this
short form

PS: I shortened his link
« Last Edit: 01/11/2017 09:58 PM by Lar »
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Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #5 on: 01/12/2017 03:28 AM »
As has been stated before, a dream viewing location would be the Amtrak parking lot at the end of Ocean Ave. <sigh>

Can someone recall the exact spot where Ocean is closed on launch days... is it the Arguello intersection?

That's a great location.  I watched the IRAS launch from the Delta IIpad by the airport in 1983.  Seems like the LV trajectory was almost overhead, quite loud and spectacular for an evening launch.  Oh.. those days.   
Tony De La Rosa

Offline nukie19

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #6 on: 01/13/2017 02:35 PM »
As has been stated before, a dream viewing location would be the Amtrak parking lot at the end of Ocean Ave. <sigh>

Can someone recall the exact spot where Ocean is closed on launch days... is it the Arguello intersection?

Just past the Arguello intersection.

Offline SeriousCallersOnly

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #7 on: 01/14/2017 02:22 PM »
I decided to try this spot:

https://goo.gl/maps/qceYVPTUbHU2

Will post a report later on how I like it.

Online Michael Baylor

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #8 on: 01/14/2017 07:00 PM »
The 30th Space Wing posted this image on Facebook. Which location is this? That looks like an amazing view!

« Last Edit: 01/14/2017 07:02 PM by Next Spaceflight »

Offline nukie19

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #9 on: 01/14/2017 08:19 PM »
Pretty sure that is on-base on the road down to Surf Beach (35th Street).

Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #10 on: 01/14/2017 10:41 PM »
Pretty sure that is on-base on the road down to Surf Beach (35th Street).

That's west across the mouth of the Santa Ynez River river on the hills side near 35th and Taco.
Tony De La Rosa

Offline SeriousCallersOnly

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #11 on: 01/14/2017 11:20 PM »



That's west across the mouth of the Santa Ynez River river on the hills side near 35th and Taco.

Wait, so does that mean this location is accessible to the general public?

Offline dglow

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #12 on: 01/14/2017 11:23 PM »
Nope, it's on-base.   :(

Offline SeriousCallersOnly

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #13 on: 01/14/2017 11:30 PM »
I like this location for the views and definitely if there was fog it would be a good spot to watch from.  I think next time I will either try Santa Ynez Peak or go back to Providence Landing park.  Has anyone on here watched from Santa Ynez Peak?  Is it high enough to see the launch pad?   All in all it was a good experience.  With my 12x50 binoculars I could follow the launch all the way through first stage separation and see a few of the burns as the first stage decelerated before I lost it.  Could also see the first stage falling behind the second stage after separation.   Well worth the 8 hr R/T drive!


I decided to try this spot:

https://goo.gl/maps/qceYVPTUbHU2

Will post a report later on how I like it.

Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #14 on: 02/02/2017 11:37 PM »
Here is a view of the launch viewed 4.1 miles from the pad on Renwick Ave., Lompoc, CA.

FALCON LAUNCH FOLLOW UP

Last month, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying several Iridium
Next communications satellites from Vandenberg AFB.

Veteran launch watcher Rick Baldridge posted an interesting video of
the launch online. To see it, go to:

 

Meanwhile, Craig N. provided the following observation of the launch:

"I viewed the launch on a beach outside the Rudder Room in Channel
Islands/Oxnard.  You can have a cold one while watching. I too saw the
orange flames from Goleta Point up until first stage burnout."
« Last Edit: 02/02/2017 11:43 PM by catdlr »
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Offline SaturnVF1

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #15 on: 05/21/2017 10:05 AM »
So the Surf Beach station is always closed for SpaceX launches?

That would be such a great place. I tried to watch the Jan 2016 launch from there but got kicked out in the middle of the night. I did see the early morning Delta 4 launch the next month from there, with a bunch of Rocketdyne employees.

Are there any good spots further south near the eastern edge of the base?

Offline nukie19

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #16 on: 06/23/2017 02:49 PM »
So the Surf Beach station is always closed for SpaceX launches?

That would be such a great place. I tried to watch the Jan 2016 launch from there but got kicked out in the middle of the night. I did see the early morning Delta 4 launch the next month from there, with a bunch of Rocketdyne employees.

Are there any good spots further south near the eastern edge of the base?

Yes to Surf being closed.
No to good spots further south. 

Most of the best places for the public and already listed here.

Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #17 on: 08/19/2017 05:29 PM »
This has some tips for Vandenberg viewing (and a restaurant recommendation for those in the area):
Viewing SpaceX launches at Vandenberg AFB

Online Michael Baylor

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #18 on: 08/21/2017 05:50 AM »
My golden rule for the Formosat-5 launch viewers.

Don't be that guy who brings a drone to try and get a view of the pad. The @WaywardDrone Twitter account was nearly created during the Iridium 2 launch.

Offline SeriousCallersOnly

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #19 on: 10/09/2017 12:07 PM »
My first night launch. :)

Offline Joffan

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #20 on: 10/16/2017 04:15 PM »
My first night launch. :)
Trying to work out what we are looking at there - modern cameras have amazing dynamic range...
« Last Edit: 10/16/2017 04:16 PM by Joffan »
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Offline SeriousCallersOnly

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #21 on: 10/16/2017 04:43 PM »
I took that long exposure shot while I was waiting around for the launch.   It's just to show the location.  Sorry for any confusion.

Offline catdlr

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #22 on: 12/21/2017 07:10 PM »
            LAUNCH ALERT

                              Brian Webb
                  [email protected]
                        www.spacearchive.info


                             2017 December 21 (Thursday) 09:58 PST

  FRIDAY LAUNCH VISIBILITY

Friday evening's launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg AFB
appears to be on schedule. The vehicle is slated to lift off from
south base at 17:27:23 PST and carry several Iridium NEXT commercial
communications satellites into orbit.

Following liftoff, the vehicle will climb vertically for several
before it begins a gradual turn and heads south.

The rocket's bright flame should be visible over a wide area. However,
since this launch occurs 30 minutes after Vandenberg AFB sunset, it
could be impressive beginning at T+ 2 minutes 12 seconds when
simulations show the exhaust plume will be illuminated at high
altitude by the sun.
Tony De La Rosa

Offline david1971

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #23 on: 02/12/2018 08:03 PM »
If the Paz launches on time, it will go up at 6:14AM local.  What is the weather/visibility situation typically like at Vandeberg in the mornings?  Is it likely I'll get a good view, or is it more likely that I'll hear it more than I see it?


Online Michael Baylor

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #24 on: 02/12/2018 08:52 PM »
If the Paz launches on time, it will go up at 6:14AM local.  What is the weather/visibility situation typically like at Vandeberg in the mornings?  Is it likely I'll get a good view, or is it more likely that I'll hear it more than I see it?
During the summer, morning launches are usually a hear not see. This time of year you might be ok.

Offline Jdeshetler

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #25 on: 02/12/2018 10:54 PM »
Looks like like the PAZ launch time is at the edge of first ray of light, the dawn.

Online Michael Baylor

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #26 on: 02/17/2018 12:21 AM »
If the Paz launches on time, it will go up at 6:14AM local.  What is the weather/visibility situation typically like at Vandeberg in the mornings?  Is it likely I'll get a good view, or is it more likely that I'll hear it more than I see it?
During the summer, morning launches are usually a hear not see. This time of year you might be ok.
Fog is in the forecast. Ignore what I said.

Offline ajsherm

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #27 on: 03/25/2018 04:23 PM »
Newbie here! Want to drive up from LA to watch the 5 May 2018 launch. Fingers crossed its not scrubbed! At that time of morning, 04:05, Im sure the coastal fog will be heavy. From what Ive found, it seems the most recommended viewing site for SLC-3E would then be Harris Road. Is that accurate? Or do any of the seasoned vets here have any other recommendations? Thanks guys!

Offline Don S

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #28 on: 03/28/2018 02:37 AM »
I thought it would be fun to go Fishing in the Chanel Islands to watch downrange from there for Thursday (3/29/18) Morning.  But now it has been postponed to Friday.   

Are there any thoughts if that would be a good viewing area?

Online Michael Baylor

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #29 on: 03/28/2018 03:08 AM »
Newbie here! Want to drive up from LA to watch the 5 May 2018 launch. Fingers crossed its not scrubbed! At that time of morning, 04:05, Im sure the coastal fog will be heavy. From what Ive found, it seems the most recommended viewing site for SLC-3E would then be Harris Road. Is that accurate? Or do any of the seasoned vets here have any other recommendations? Thanks guys!
I've never watched from Harris Road myself. It might have a partial view of the pad, but I am not entirely sure.

The easiest and closest view location is Ocean Avenue. However, a hill will obstruct the view of the launch site so you will miss the first few seconds of flight. After that, the view is excellent assuming there is no fog. Morning launches are always risky so check the weather ahead of time.

I thought it would be fun to go Fishing in the Chanel Islands to watch downrange from there for Thursday (3/29/18) Morning.  But now it has been postponed to Friday.   

Are there any thoughts if that would be a good viewing area?

It could be very interesting. Especially if they execute the reentry and landing burns. It would be a risk, but bring a camera in case it pays off so we can see what it's like.  ;D
« Last Edit: 03/28/2018 03:08 AM by Michael Baylor »

Offline Roy_H

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #30 on: 05/19/2018 04:04 PM »
I've decided to view the Grace/Iridium launch from 699 Mercury, Vandenberg Village on Tuesday. This is the local community center Park and Pool. Hope to see some of you there.
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Offline AstroBrewer

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #31 on: 09/29/2018 02:41 AM »
I'll be in LA next weekend and I'm going to head up to Lompoc for the SAOCOM 1a launch on Saturday 10/6.  Anyone else going up for that?  Reading this launch viewing thread I was thinking about maybe trying to get to Renwick Ave if possible.  Any advice on where to watch from is appreciated. 

Online Michael Baylor

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #32 on: 09/29/2018 03:23 AM »
I'll be in LA next weekend and I'm going to head up to Lompoc for the SAOCOM 1a launch on Saturday 10/6.  Anyone else going up for that?  Reading this launch viewing thread I was thinking about maybe trying to get to Renwick Ave if possible.  Any advice on where to watch from is appreciated.
Ocean Ave is your best bet which is connected to Renwick. Get there an hour or two early as there will be big crowds.

Offline AstroBrewer

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #33 on: 09/29/2018 07:22 PM »
Ocean Ave is your best bet which is connected to Renwick. Get there an hour or two early as there will be big crowds.
Thanks.  I'll shoot for two hours early. 

Offline DaveJes1979

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #34 on: 10/07/2018 10:13 PM »
Do we know that Ocean Ave will be open as usual up to the south gate?

Offline Brovane

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #35 on: 10/08/2018 12:45 AM »
I am here and they closed Ocean at Union Sugar avenue.
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Offline DaveJes1979

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #36 on: 10/10/2018 10:19 PM »
I watched the launch from the Union Sugar roadblock on Ocean Avenue.  This is 4.5 miles from the Falcon 9 pad.  In the past, I've watched from the South Base Gate which is a bit further down Ocean Avenue, about 3.88 miles from the pad.

I guess they were taking extra precaution due to the booster landing.  I hope they don't do that indefinitely for all future launch/RTLS landings.

The crowds were huge, it took about an hour until the line of cars even started moving.  And even then it was pretty slow going, as I headed back to Highway 1.

The Ocean Avenue locations are by far the closest locations the public can get to the pads.  However, since it is essentially at sea level, low-level fog can completely wipe out your visibility.  For this launch, however, the weather cooperated and it was crystal clear.  The only thing we couldn't see were the first seconds of launch and last seconds of landing, as the hills do block a direct view of the pads.

From this distance, the sonic boom was surprisingly loud, at least compared to what I remember of the shuttle's sonic booms.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Vandenberg - Launch Viewing
« Reply #37 on: 10/10/2018 11:18 PM »
I was there! Just down the road from Union Sugar, near the intersection of Artesia and Ocean.

It. Was. AMAZING.

And there was a ton of people there. Thousands of people. Lots of little kids, too, which is very good. Way, Way more people I thought would be there. Cars packed on both sides of the roads for miles around. It was nuts. I was closer to the exit and it still took us half an hour to get out :D
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