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MintakaCat
02-28-2009, 08:32
I had heard many many years ago that there was a place on the AT where hikers would watch the launch of the Saturn V rockets used in the Apollo missions back in the 60s and 70s. This place was so popular that it got a name because hikers would gather there to see these launches when the weather was clear.

Maybe I'm wrong but I thought it was on the AT or maybe in the GSMNP. Anybody know?

Egads
02-28-2009, 08:40
I used to watch the shuttle launches from work in Palm Beach County Fl.

That was pre-Chad days

4eyedbuzzard
02-28-2009, 08:42
Don't know, but GSMNP sounds logical on one of the balds. Still, that's a long way off. I watched a shuttle launch from Orlando and it was pretty cool but even from there all you really saw was the bright light from the rocket engines and the smoke/vapor trail.

Mrs Baggins
02-28-2009, 09:08
Went to 3 shuttle launches and 1 landing when we lived in Titusville FL in 1985, very close to the space center. When that baby goes up it just pounds your whole body even when you're 3 -5 miles away. And when it lands...we heard someone's radio broadcast that it was over Spain, and within what seemed like just seconds there was a sonic boom and it silently appeared out of the sky. Very very cool.

bigmac_in
02-28-2009, 09:30
It's nice you all got to see rockets launch, but nobody has answered the question. Does anyone know the answer?

Egads
02-28-2009, 09:39
It's nice you all got to see rockets launch, but nobody has answered the question. Does anyone know the answer?

I do not think it is possible to see a shuttle launch from the AT. Springer is about 500 miles from Titusville, FL as the crow flies

Rockhound
02-28-2009, 09:46
Also when they launch they go over the ocean not inland so I doubt you would be able to see anything.

Pedaling Fool
02-28-2009, 09:56
Look at the size difference between a Saturn V and the space shuttle

(Scroll down to bottom of this link http://gizmodo.com/5079556/happy-birthday-saturn-v-still-the-biggest-rocket-of-all)

Ox97GaMe
02-28-2009, 10:33
In this case, size doesnt matter. From 500 miles away, you wouldnt be able to see very much. To emphasis this point, consider this fact.

The Great Wall of China cannot be seen from the space shuttle or space station as it flies overhead at approx 25 miles. There is NO way that a person, sitting on a bald in the Smokies (or anywhere else along the trail) could actually see anything that was over 500 miles away.

What you might be thinking/talking about is the telescope/observatory near Pinnacle Rock in PA. The scientists may have set the telescopes to be able to observe the space shuttle from there. The day I was at the site on my thru hike, there was a crew there that was working to confirm some data from the Hubble telescope. It was pretty neat to watch them and talk with them about their project.

Pedaling Fool
02-28-2009, 10:47
In this case, size doesnt matter. From 500 miles away, you wouldnt be able to see very much. To emphasis this point, consider this fact.

The Great Wall of China cannot be seen from the space shuttle or space station as it flies overhead at approx 25 miles. There is NO way that a person, sitting on a bald in the Smokies (or anywhere else along the trail) could actually see anything that was over 500 miles away.

What you might be thinking/talking about is the telescope/observatory near Pinnacle Rock in PA. The scientists may have set the telescopes to be able to observe the space shuttle from there. The day I was at the site on my thru hike, there was a crew there that was working to confirm some data from the Hubble telescope. It was pretty neat to watch them and talk with them about their project.
I wasn't insinuating that the size makes it easier to see from the AT. I just thought it kind of funny that the guy asked about Saturn V launches and everyone was talking about the space shuttle.

Doctari
02-28-2009, 10:50
Atlanta GA is a few miles north of the launch site in FLA, from Tray Mt I could BARELY see the tops of the 4 tallest buildings in Atlanta. I strongly suspect that seeing an actual launch would be less than likely.

That said, I did see a satelite go over head while at the Blue Mt shelter in 97, at around 10 PM. But it had been up there for a few years acording to the astronimer spending the night.

MintakaCat
02-28-2009, 10:53
In this case, size doesnt matter. From 500 miles away, you wouldnt be able to see very much.

Ever seen an Iridium Flare (sunlight reflecting off an Iridium satellite)? Iridium Satellites are in low Earth orbit at a height of approximately 485 miles (780 km) and inclination of 86.4į.

Egads
02-28-2009, 10:54
Are you all saying size doesn't matter?

bulldog49
02-28-2009, 15:04
Are you all saying size doesn't matter?

It does if you are a porno actor. ;)

Ox97GaMe
02-28-2009, 15:44
I have seen the reflection from a satelite in orbit. you piqued my interest, so I checked out orbit altitudes. Here is a chart of what types of craft are at various altitude orbits.

100-300 shuttles, space stations, spysats, navsats, hamsats
300-600 weather sats, photo sats
600-1,200 spysats, military comsats, hamsats
3,000-6,000 science sats
6,000-12,000 navsats
22,300 (stationary) communications, broadcast, weather
250-50,000 (elliptical) early-warning, Molniya broadcast, communications, spysats, hamsats

4eyedbuzzard
02-28-2009, 16:26
I have seen the reflection from a satelite in orbit. you piqued my interest, so I checked out orbit altitudes. Here is a chart of what types of craft are at various altitude orbits.

100-300 shuttles, space stations, spysats, navsats, hamsats
300-600 weather sats, photo sats
600-1,200 spysats, military comsats, hamsats
3,000-6,000 science sats
6,000-12,000 navsats
22,300 (stationary) communications, broadcast, weather
250-50,000 (elliptical) early-warning, Molniya broadcast, communications, spysats, hamsats

I remember watching the space shuttle separate from the space station a few years back as it passed overhead. Just two small shiny objects but it was pretty cool knowing what they were and what was happening.

Funkmeister
02-28-2009, 19:26
This doesnít answer your question exactly, butÖ

I think itís not possible to see anything launch from the Canaveral (formerly Kennedy) Complex from anywhere on the AT. Because...

The distance between Springer Mountain and the Canaveral Space Center is ~473 statue miles. (Actually, thatís the distance between the two airports closest to both places, Gilmer County and Titusville, because I have that bit of data. Itís within 3%.) Knowing the distance to the horizon at a given altitude and the altitude of Springer Mt. (~3800í), we can calculate that the rocket will become visible as it ascends thru the 29th mile of liftoff if it travels vertically, and you will theoretically see it appear over the horizon in the direction of 152 degrees magnetic. But rockets head eastward at ~93 degrees magnetic, away from the AT viewer, so itís needs be higher than that, since itís farther.

Clingmanís Dome, to pick another example, is about 85 miles to the northeast of Springer, so the numbers would crunch worse.

But Wallops Island is in Virginia, and NASA uses that as a launchpad for assorted rockets since the Ď40s. Itís way closer to the AT, about 165 miles from Shenandoah Park. No Apollo rockets from there (too hard to fit in the buildings when they were building the Saturn V). Itís possible that this is where the source of the legend began.

An alternate theory could involve a bit of smoking late in the day.

MintakaCat
02-28-2009, 20:05
Okay, Iím getting a little closer to getting to the truth as to whether or not you could see a Saturn V launch from the AT. Hereís a story line from National Geographic about Apollo 17:

ďAs far away as North Carolina, spectators spot the bright wake of this unique Apollo night launch.Ē

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0407/online_extra.html

Iím pretty sure I read somewhere that hikers could see an Apollo Saturn V launch, but I just havenít found it yet. I seem to recall that there was some cliff or particular spot they would gather to see this, but I canít recall the name of the spot.

Pedaling Fool
02-28-2009, 20:52
I think it's probably possible to see that launch at many places along the southern AT. You wouldn't see the light at the moment of launch because of the distance, not to mention the curvature of the earth. However, once it got altitude I imagine it's probably possible to see it, being a NIGHT launch.

I don't think it would have been very obvious, but probably possible.

Bear Bag
02-28-2009, 21:03
Perhaps you may be thinking of rockets launched from the Wallops Island, Virginia flight facility. No Saturn V's have ever been launched from there, but many research rockets were and are. Many years ago when I was living in Hampton, VA I watched a rocket from Wallops release a sodium cloud into the upper atmosphere. I could clearly see the engine wink to start up and move across the evening sky. It would shut down to release the gas. As the sodium spread, it gave the sky a pale greenish glow. It was very cool.

I suspect that on a clear night you may be able to see this from elevations in SNP.

MintakaCat
02-28-2009, 21:07
Found it! It was close to the AT, in the GSMNP on the Alum Cave Bluff Trail. From mtleconte.com:

ďContinuing up the trail the hiker reaches a clear rock face called Apollo Point. This location received its name from the days when viewers could see the Apollo Saturn V boosters climbing into orbit.Ē

http://www.mtleconte.com/acblocations.html

I knew there was a spot to see these launches. I remember our Scout leader telling us about this spot in the early 70s and trying to get a hiking trip to it.

Hereís another interesting fact about Saturn V rockets that I found that might give a clue as to the power these things had:

November 9, 1967: The engines of the enormous Saturn V rocket used to launch all the moon missions were fired up for the first time. NASA wasn't really sure what to expect, and it sure surprised some other people. The launch registered on geological instruments as far away as New York, and a CBS broadcast booth three miles from the launch pad collapsed.

Darwin again
03-01-2009, 16:41
It is entirely possible to see a shuttle launch from the AT.

The trajectory that the shuttle takes after launch depends on type of orbit any particular mission requires. A more polar orbit might require that the orbiter go into orbit along a more northerly track.

For instance, on the night of Dec. 9, 2006, Shuttle Mission STS-116 was visible from the Roanoke area on the Blue Ridge Parkway:
http://www.lacrosseforums.com/showpost.php?p=949558&postcount=1

Further linkage:
http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/94717

A more "normal" shuttle launch is usually downrange to the east; NASA takes advantage of the earth spinning toward the east give the orbiter a bit of an "assist" into orbit, thus using less fuel to get there. Launching into orbit at higher angles to the line of earth's rotation require more fuel, but it is done, therefore the launches are visible up the east coast, particularly at night. For what it's worth, one typical shuttle orbit around the earth takes 90 minutes and they usually fly in a generally easting direction.

BumpJumper
03-01-2009, 18:28
Florida has good visability:sun

MintakaCat
03-01-2009, 22:07
For instance, on the night of Dec. 9, 2006, Shuttle Mission STS-116 was visible from the Roanoke area on the Blue Ridge Parkway:

Now that you mention it, I do remember the local radio station here in Atlanta saying that you might be able to see that launch. That explains why. Thanks.

Pokey2006
03-01-2009, 23:46
Hey, that's really interesting. I can just imagine folks all excited about this new-fangled space travel thing, hiking up a mountain just to catch a small glimpse -- at night -- of a launch. Great job digging up the info. And thanks for sharing!

Lilred
03-02-2009, 12:48
I used to watch the shuttle launches from work in Palm Beach County Fl.

That was pre-Chad days

I watched the Challenger explode when I lived in Palm Beach County back in 1986. Where did you work?

rhjanes
03-02-2009, 14:35
I'm also wondering, about testing at Huntsville Alabama. Much closer to Springer. Could a ground test firing, be seen?

Pedaling Fool
03-02-2009, 14:45
Anything fired on the ground in Huntsville, Al would not be seen anywhere on the AT.