Author Topic: SpaceX Starship & Superheavy - Starbase, Boca Chica, TX - Launch Viewing  (Read 23031 times)

Offline markbike528cbx

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Is there a picture of where a nominal orbital flight path might be visible from?

I was thinking of something along the lines of what is sometimes shown for Wallops launches.

Iíll be in Texas in late March, but in Houston or Austin.
« Last Edit: 02/25/2023 12:25 pm by markbike528cbx »

Offline JoerTex

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Houston and Austin are both about 350 miles from Starbase.  About the same distance Wilmington NC is from Wallops Island.  So, expect any flight to be very close to the horizon.

Online Orbiter

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FWIW, depending on the time of day, a late-afternoon launch of Starship from TX (about 30-1 hour before sunset and ~30 minutes after) would result in an absolutely spectacular jellyfish effect for people across the Gulf Coast. South Florida especially as Starship would be heading just south of the Keys. It would be similar to what people in Bermuda see during sunset Falcon 9 launches from the Cape.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2023 05:05 pm by Orbiter »
KSC Engineer, astronomer, rocket photographer.

Offline pb2000

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Everyday Astronaut talks a bit about viewing areas, plus a bunch of bonus material about visiting Starbase.

Launches attended: Worldview-4 (Atlas V 401), Iridium NEXT Flight 1 (Falcon 9 FT), PAZ+Starlink (Falcon 9 FT), Arabsat-6A (Falcon Heavy)
Pilgrimaged to: Boca Chica (09/19 & 01/22)

Offline pedz

After the launch, where I was at on Long Island, I guess it was well after the launch (maybe 30 minutes?  I'm not sure), dirt starting raining down.  It covered everything.  It was gritty / sandy.

Was this the concrete from under the launch pad?  I've seen various things mention that after the tests, they need to redo the concrete and I guess they keep trying different things.

Offline Eka

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After the launch, where I was at on Long Island, I guess it was well after the launch (maybe 30 minutes?  I'm not sure), dirt starting raining down.  It covered everything.  It was gritty / sandy.

Was this the concrete from under the launch pad?  I've seen various things mention that after the tests, they need to redo the concrete and I guess they keep trying different things.
From the size and depth of the excavated hole, I'd guess most of it was sand. Concrete bits being heavier would fall out closer to the launch site.
We talk about creating a Star Trek future, but will end up with The Expanse if radical change doesn't happen.

Online TrevorMonty

After the launch, where I was at on Long Island, I guess it was well after the launch (maybe 30 minutes?  I'm not sure), dirt starting raining down.  It covered everything.  It was gritty / sandy.

Was this the concrete from under the launch pad?  I've seen various things mention that after the tests, they need to redo the concrete and I guess they keep trying different things.
From the size and depth of the excavated hole, I'd guess most of it was sand. Concrete bits being heavier would fall out closer to the launch site.
This also gives some idea of effects of landing or launch Starship on lunar surface using Raptors instead of multiple thrusters higher up on vehicle. While thrust levels are lot lower than Heavy booster at launch, gravity on moon is also lot lower, there is no atmosphere to slow debris down and regolith is finer than sand.

Offline KilroySmith

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Seriously considering driving out for IFT-2.  Any updates to the suggestions here from anyone who was at the first launch, other than planning on getting the car washed afterwards?

Offline notthebobo

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If you're going to Isla Blanca Park on the south end of South Padre (recommended), get there EARLY. The first one filled up pretty quickly.
Also check out the park website, they are changing the hours for park closing the day before and opening hours the day of.

https://www.cameroncountytx.gov/isla-blanca-county-park-modified-hours-of-operation-spacex-flight-activity-temporary-closure-of-the-isla-blanca-park-boat-ramp/

« Last Edit: 11/15/2023 09:42 pm by notthebobo »

Offline billh

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If you're going to see a Starship launch at Starbase, one of the best places to stay is the Margaritaville Beach Resort in Padre Island (formerly called The Pearl). My son and I stayed there to watch the IFT-2 launch in November 2023, and I thought I'd share a little detail that is current as of that date.

The hotel is six miles away from the launch pad and the upper floors on the south side of the building have a direct view of the pad. Every room has a private balcony. According to the hotel staff, the launch pad is visible on floors five and up. We stayed on the sixth floor and could clearly see the launch mount, the tower, the rocket, Hopper, and the buildings at the production site.

Reservations were easy, but you need to make one early to get a room with a rocket view. On the website you want to book a Premium Sky room. These are described as rooms on the upper floors with a view of the ocean and the pool (which is on the south side of the building). You must pay the first night's rent as a deposit, but it is fully refundable if you cancel at least 48 hours in advance. I made an initial reservation that I changed several times as the launch date slipped. I couldn't make the change online so I had to call the reservation desk at the hotel, but everyone I spoke to was helpful and friendly.

Unless you plan to watch the launch through your camera viewfinder, I recommend using binoculars. (A small pair will do.) Six miles is pretty far even for a big rocket. But you won't think it's that far when you hear and feel the crackling roar of the engines! The closest you could get to the launch is still five miles away (in Isla Blanca Park) and I felt the convenience and comfort of the hotel more than made up for the extra mile. We woke up, tuned in the webcast, made a cup of coffee, then stepped out on the balcony when the countdown was about T minus two minutes. (Bring an HTML cable and you can watch the webcast on the widescreen TV.)

The hotel itself was apparently recently remodeled when it was purchased by Margaritaville Beach Resort. The decor is whimsically themed based on the late Jimmy Buffet and his hit song Margaritaville. Parrots are everywhere. There's a giant sculpture of a flip flop in the lobby. The chandelier is made of margarita glasses. I suppose it might seem over the top, but being old enough to remember when the song was a hit I got a kick out of it.

Aside from rocket launches, the hotel offers all the expected amenities of a beach resort. A short stroll over the dunes takes you to a very nice beach that's not too crowded. (As long as it's not spring break, I guess. I would avoid South Padre Island if it's spring break.) There is a large pool with a swim up bar, plenty of tables, chairs and chaise lounges for relaxing, and a large selection of tropical style drinks. Indoors is a spa (which we didn't use), a restaurant/bar and a coffee shop. So if your family doesn't care about rockets they should still have a good time.

The price per night varies a lot depending on time of year, when you make your reservation, and how long you stay. Also, between taxes, fees, and the non-optional resort fee, the actual cost was something like 50% more than the quoted room rate. But when you make the reservation it clearly shows the actual total for your stay and not just the "room rate". For us, a two night stay came to about $200/night. There are cheaper places to stay, of course, but they don't come with their own launch-viewing balcony! Note that my initial reservation showed a lower per night charge based on the fact that I booked a longer stay. When we checked out early (because...rocket gone!) the charge reverted to a higher rate based on the shorter stay.

I like the hotel and enjoyed staying there. For launch viewing, the only downside I'll mention is that we lost sight of the rocket before staging because of a wall that protruded several feet further than the balcony. How intrusive that is depends on where your room is, and thus how far you are from that wall. We were in room 625. A couple of doors down (say 627) would have been better. On the other hand, all we had to do was step back inside and watch the rest of the flight on the webcast, so I didn't feel too cheated.

A final thought: my son is vegetarian and the non-meat options were pretty slim pickings in South Padre. Any restaurant we looked at (including the one in the hotel) would have at most one or two vegetarian items. That's typical of large swaths of Texas outside the major cities, so it's no knock on the hotel or the town, but it's something to keep in mind when traveling in the area.

In conclusion, I can definitely recommend the Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island for rocket viewing!
« Last Edit: 11/21/2023 05:08 pm by billh »

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