“You’re here for the launch?” Ted Ebbers asked me the night of April 19, 2023, when we met on the beach of South Padre Island, Texas. The answer was obvious: We both were killing time before the next day’s scheduled flight of the world’s most powerful rocket. A recently retired Canadian federal employee, Ebbers, 58, drove from his home in Toronto to SpaceX’s spaceport in Boca Chica to watch his first rocket launch. He made the 1,900-mile trip alone, sleeping overnight at rest stops inside his Tesla Model Y.
At dawn, Ebbers and I were among the thousands who had gathered to see the first test flight of the 33-engine Super Heavy booster as it carried its Starship upper stage, built by SpaceX to deliver payload and passengers to the moon and Mars. The crowd at Isla Blanca Park, on the island’s southern tip with the best view of the launchpad, was festive and diverse: college students in “Occupy Mars” T-shirts, snowbirds in Hawaiian shirts.
It’s the best time in U.S. history for the public to watch a space launch. There’s a steady stream of rockets rising from spaceports in Florida, California, and Virginia, and at each you’ll find gawkers.
(See all the world's active rocket launch sites.)
They’re enjoying firsthand what might be called a golden age of American spaceflight. During the George W. Bush administration, NASA started to shift from designing rockets and spacecraft to renting rides in ones created by private companies. This commercialization trend gained speed under the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations.
Ebbers watched his first launch as dozens of engines on Starship’s booster ignited at 8:33 a.m. on April 20. “We saw the rocket beginning to lift,” he says. But the booster exhaust blasted huge chunks of concrete from the launchpad, suspected of damaging some engines (and three others failed to ignite at liftoff). The 394-foot-tall rocket staggered through the sky as it climbed above 120,000 feet. After nearly four minutes of flight, Starship and its booster self-destructed, never even having had the chance to separate stages.
“It didn’t matter,” Ebbers said of the untimely end. “The spacecraft flew, and we all got to see it.” He may be a first-timer, but no launch tourist could state their creed any better.
Here’s where to go to see U.S. rocket launches yourself.
Seasoned rocket chasers know to head to Vandenberg Space Force Base. Here, Space Launch Delta 30 manages operations for United Launch Alliance send-offs of secret government payloads, Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile tests, and SpaceX commercial flights.
Watching 139-foot-tall Antares rockets rise from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (yes, MARS) to bring cargo to the International Space Station has become a
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Nobody appointed Doug Michaels to serve as an ambassador of the human race. But the position, which he assumed in 1977, promised to have far greater significance than ambassadorships to China or the Soviet Union. He and co-ambassadors Alexandra Morphett and Robert Perry proposed nothing less than to develop diplomatic relations with a nonhuman species. Their seaborne embassy sought direct communication with dolphins.
Hotels and inns that have been around for decades or centuries often have the sort of charms—and scenic locations—that newer properties lack. “Historic hotels are often in tree-lined historic districts or close to nature,” says Lawrence Horwitz, a spokesperson of Historic Hotels of America, a consortium of these properties.
One evening after a long day at work, Diksha Manocha was idly scrolling Instagram when she stumbled across something peculiar: an account for Join My Wedding, an online service that allows tourists to purchase tickets to weddings in India.
Travelers from around 70 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and the United Kingdom, can travel to Morocco as tourists without a visa. The maximum stay is 90 days, which starts on the date of your entry stamp, not three calendar months.
On September 1, Carol and Tom Cutkomp stepped aboard Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas ship in Seward, Alaska, and began unpacking their belongings, eager to kick off their vacation after three long days of travel.
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