Author Topic: Filming at KSC?  (Read 6744 times)

Offline cautionjump

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Filming at KSC?
« on: 01/10/2014 01:55 PM »
Hello there!

Im an aerial photographer, and would like some advice from anyone close to NASA... I use small multirotors carrying DSLRs to shoot high definition video or take high quality photos from altitude. The mulitrotors I've built have a range of several miles, so Ive been able to take some stunning images no one has seen before.

Ive always been a huge fan of NASA and ths shuttle program, and a collector of all things shuttle flown. When I took the tour of the VAB and the 39 complex, I was really blown away.

So what I would love to do is see if I could get permission to fly the launch pads and get nice up close video and images for a video and book. Im sure there would be great interest in this. However I don't really have any contacts at NASA. Could anyone point me in the direction to get this rolling?

Thanks for any and all help!

« Last Edit: 01/10/2014 01:57 PM by Chris Bergin »

Online Chris Bergin

Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #1 on: 01/10/2014 01:59 PM »
KSC SWAT would appreciate the target practise! ;D

You'll absolutely need to speak to a number of people. Not sure where to start, but someone will know on here!

Offline DMeader

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #2 on: 01/10/2014 03:10 PM »
The mulitrotors I've built have a range of several miles...

I wonder what the FAA would have to say about that. A gray area, but doubt that it would be legal.

Offline cautionjump

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #3 on: 01/10/2014 03:35 PM »
The mulitrotors I've built have a range of several miles...

I wonder what the FAA would have to say about that. A gray area, but doubt that it would be legal.

Its called FPV flying and the FAA knows about it. There wont be any solid regulations until next year, so its unregulated at the moment.

Offline mheney

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #4 on: 01/10/2014 03:40 PM »
You'd start with the KSC PAO.

As far as "flying the launch pads", you *might* get permission if there's no vehicle on the pad at the moment.    If you want to buzz a rocket on the pad, I'd expect a very firm but polite "no"; and if you're talking about filming a launch (or any point in time when a vehicle is on the pad and fueled), i'd expect the no to be even firmer, and possibly less polite.

But you never know until you ask ... 

(A second option would be to talk to the launch vehicle provider (ULA, SpaceX, Orbital ...) and see if they're interested in contracting with you to produce imagery.  That would move some of the burden of dealing with the spaceport folks off of you and to the rocket folks - but it'll still be a tough sell for you.

Offline cautionjump

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #5 on: 01/10/2014 03:42 PM »
KSC SWAT would appreciate the target practise! ;D

You'll absolutely need to speak to a number of people. Not sure where to start, but someone will know on here!


It would be a very small target to hit! lol!

Thats what Im looking for, I would like to set up at the launch pad, but I would obviously need some sort of escort and high up permission, I just don't really know who I would talk to.

But imagine photos like this of the pad!
« Last Edit: 01/10/2014 03:45 PM by cautionjump »

Offline cautionjump

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #6 on: 01/10/2014 03:44 PM »
You'd start with the KSC PAO.

As far as "flying the launch pads", you *might* get permission if there's no vehicle on the pad at the moment.    If you want to buzz a rocket on the pad, I'd expect a very firm but polite "no"; and if you're talking about filming a launch (or any point in time when a vehicle is on the pad and fueled), i'd expect the no to be even firmer, and possibly less polite.

But you never know until you ask ... 

(A second option would be to talk to the launch vehicle provider (ULA, SpaceX, Orbital ...) and see if they're interested in contracting with you to produce imagery.  That would move some of the burden of dealing with the spaceport folks off of you and to the rocket folks - but it'll still be a tough sell for you.

Is there any particular person I should contact at KSC PAO?

Im not interested in flying any active pads, but I would like to document 39A especially before its taken over by SpaceX and most likely taken apart, or at least heavily modified. Thats why I thought this would be the best time to get permission while its inactive.

Offline mheney

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #7 on: 01/10/2014 03:57 PM »

Is there any particular person I should contact at KSC PAO?

Im not interested in flying any active pads, but I would like to document 39A especially before its taken over by SpaceX and most likely taken apart, or at least heavily modified. Thats why I thought this would be the best time to get permission while its inactive.

Unfortunately, I'm not at KSC; I don't have any contacts with the PAO there.  But they've got a long history of experience working with journalists in a wide range of media; I'd expect a cold call/e-mail  to them would get you routed to the right person quickly.

You might also try SpaceX for this, as they're leasing the pad and might have some say as to what goes on there - but they DO like to do things in-house, and they DO have their own hexacopter - which they're not afraid to fly near their own vehicles (see the Grasshopper videos ...)

Offline p51

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #8 on: 01/10/2014 04:07 PM »
Where'd you get those neat shots of the cooling tower? It reminds me of the never-finished nuclear plant at Satsop, WA:
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Offline cautionjump

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #9 on: 01/10/2014 04:10 PM »

Is there any particular person I should contact at KSC PAO?

Im not interested in flying any active pads, but I would like to document 39A especially before its taken over by SpaceX and most likely taken apart, or at least heavily modified. Thats why I thought this would be the best time to get permission while its inactive.

Unfortunately, I'm not at KSC; I don't have any contacts with the PAO there.  But they've got a long history of experience working with journalists in a wide range of media; I'd expect a cold call/e-mail  to them would get you routed to the right person quickly.

You might also try SpaceX for this, as they're leasing the pad and might have some say as to what goes on there - but they DO like to do things in-house, and they DO have their own hexacopter - which they're not afraid to fly near their own vehicles (see the Grasshopper videos ...)


Yeah I'm trying to get in before the lease is finalized, so hopefully I can get this all together in the next few months, if I can get permission at all. I sent an email but it was returned, so I may try and give them a call.

Offline cautionjump

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #10 on: 01/10/2014 04:11 PM »
Where'd you get those neat shots of the cooling tower? It reminds me of the never-finished nuclear plant at Satsop, WA:


It was an unfinished nuclear plant in Hartsville, TN. It really weird snapping photos a mile away.

Offline Ford Mustang

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #11 on: 01/10/2014 04:29 PM »
Is there any particular person I should contact at KSC PAO?

Im not interested in flying any active pads, but I would like to document 39A especially before its taken over by SpaceX and most likely taken apart, or at least heavily modified. Thats why I thought this would be the best time to get permission while its inactive.

ksc-public-inquiries @ mail.nasa.gov (remove spaces around the @) is KSC's public inquiry email - you can send a (detailed) email to that and it will get routed to the right person.  Don't send any photo/text attachments and definitely have an accurate subject line or it might hit the spam filter.  I wouldn't expect an email back until next week sometime if you sent one today.  Otherwise, you can always call the KSC PAO office and talk to someone over the phone.

I would expect a firm no for any active pads with vehicles on them, however there have been surprises.  This would be a decent time as there isn't any vehicles being worked except the upcoming TDRS launch, but they'll definitely let you know.  Best of luck, and hope this helped some.  Let us know the results!

Offline rdale

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #12 on: 01/10/2014 06:31 PM »
You can do that online too - https://media.ksc.nasa.gov/

Online edkyle99

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #13 on: 01/10/2014 07:19 PM »
Keep in mind that nothing launches from Kennedy Space Center proper right now.  Atlas, Delta, and Falcon all operate from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as in U.S. Air Force, which would obviously be another can of worms.  (They have their own drones.  Have you seen any drone photos of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station?)  On the other hand, KSC PAO might be more willing to consider viewing facilities that are today mostly dormant - from a safe distance of course.

One thing you obviously do not want to do is trigger a launch scrub with a drone flying into restricted airspace.   

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 01/10/2014 07:30 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #14 on: 01/10/2014 08:22 PM »
It's currently illegal, under FAA rules, to use unmanned aircraft for commercial activities. NASA certainly won't permit this if it's for a book or video.

Offline cautionjump

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #15 on: 01/10/2014 09:31 PM »
It's currently illegal, under FAA rules, to use unmanned aircraft for commercial activities. NASA certainly won't permit this if it's for a book or video.

Its not illegal. Theres a pretty big debate going on right now about that because the FAA has issued some strong statements against using sUAS for commercial use, but they dont have any actual regulations in place. Once they issue actual regulations this year, that may change. Either way the quad can be tethered which negates that issue anyways.

Offline cautionjump

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #16 on: 01/10/2014 09:33 PM »
Keep in mind that nothing launches from Kennedy Space Center proper right now.  Atlas, Delta, and Falcon all operate from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as in U.S. Air Force, which would obviously be another can of worms.  (They have their own drones.  Have you seen any drone photos of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station?)  On the other hand, KSC PAO might be more willing to consider viewing facilities that are today mostly dormant - from a safe distance of course.

One thing you obviously do not want to do is trigger a launch scrub with a drone flying into restricted airspace.   

 - Ed Kyle


Again, thats part of my timing, I dont want to go near anything active, just stay in the fenced area of 39A.

Offline DMeader

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #17 on: 01/10/2014 10:47 PM »
It's currently illegal, under FAA rules, to use unmanned aircraft for commercial activities. NASA certainly won't permit this if it's for a book or video.

Right. After a bit of searching, I found...

Quote
Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s current policy, no one can operate an unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System without specific authority. Operators who wish to fly an unmanned aircraft for civil use must obtain an FAA experimental airworthiness certificate, which will not be issued to an unmanned aircraft used for compensation or hire. Although the FAA allows hobbyists to fly model airplanes for recreational purposes under specific guidelines, that authority does not extend to operators flying unmanned aircraft for business purposes…

Now I know that you'll disagree. What I'm thinking is that as contentious as this issue seems to be, what are the chances that a government agency will allow it at a location as sensitive as KSC?
« Last Edit: 01/10/2014 11:20 PM by DMeader »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #18 on: 01/10/2014 10:52 PM »
Is their McGregor facility not "in the National Airspace System" or something? If so, why are their launch sites?

I guess what I'm asking is: that sounds like they're not allowed to fly it already, but they are.
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Online RonM

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Re: Filming at KSC?
« Reply #19 on: 01/10/2014 11:01 PM »
Is their McGregor facility not "in the National Airspace System" or something? If so, why are their launch sites?

I guess what I'm asking is: that sounds like they're not allowed to fly it already, but they are.

Since SpaceX had to get FAA permission to for the Grasshopper tests, maybe they think that covers the drone too.

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