Rocket Launch

I’ve always wanted to see a rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The logistics of traveling to Cape Canaveral are pretty formidable and there is always a chance that the launch will be scrubbed. To make to most of this possibly once-in-a-lifetime event I want to get as close as possible to the launch of a really big rocket.

Getting close is easy; NASA sells $195 tickets to view launches from the Apollo/Saturn V Center which is 4 miles from Launch Complex 39. LC-39 is where the big rockets launch from.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy (FH) is currently the largest rocket launching from KSC. The table below shows how the FH stacks up to other launch vehicles in terms of total sea level thrust in millions of lb(f).

Boosters1st StageTotal
Space Launch System (SLS)7.2 (solid)1.78.9
Saturn Vn/a7.97.9
Space Shuttle (STS)5.6 (solid)1.26.8
Falcon Heavy3.4 (liquid)1.75.1
Delta IV Heavy1.4 (liquid)0.72.1

Total thrust only tells a part of the story. Solid fuel boosters are louder and more visually impressive than liquid fueled engines so it looks like it will be worth waiting for NASA’s SLS launch in 2020.

And there’s always SpaceX’s 13.9 million lb(f) thrust BFR which is also supposed to fly in 2020.

How Dangerous is Flying?

According the National Safety Council the lifetime odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are 1 in 102 compared to 1 in 205,552 for dying as a passenger on an aircraft. We’re about 4 times as likely to die from a bee sting as from an airplane crash. [1]

In the 20 years between 1997 and 2016 there were 774,723 motor vehicle deaths in the United States. [2] During the same period there were 786 commercial aviation fatalities. [3]

The question isn’t why are some people afraid of flying, but why aren’t we all terrified of driving.