SpaceX’s historic Falcon Heavy launch – what it’s like to be there

The TechCrunch team arrived at Kennedy Space Center to see SpaceX’s historic Falcon Heavy launch. Here’s what it was like to be there.

– It is the day after the
historic Falcon Heavy launch. I’m here with Darrell at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. These are not the rockets that went off. These are historic rockets from the past, Real rockets, but not active. I’ve never even been to this area before. – No, me neither. I mean, I’ve been covering
space at TechCrunch For about two years now, But haven’t had the chance to come down And see it in person. It’s awesome to see it in person. – It’s really cool, the town
is really normal though. It’s just like a normal, sort of like, Suburban Floridian town. – It’s great, but you just
randomly run into people Who are rocket engineers. – Yeah, they’re just like, ”Oh,
you’re going to the launch? ”Yeah, I used to be an engineer ”on the Challenger or whatever.” And then the actual launch area, I didn’t know it’s an
actual Air Force base. I wasn’t sure if it was
just like a NASA facility, But you know, it’s all
access-controlled and stuff. – Yeah, very much access-controlled. (Devin laughs) So much so that I’m not allowed on there Because of my Canadian heritage. – You weren’t allowed On the actual launch day,
– Yeah. – But we got to go the day before. – [Darrell] And set up
shots and take a look And get in really close to the rocket too,

The Falcon Heavy, pretty
close, pretty close. We were right there in the
part with the exclusions Or whatever they call it, right? Where you’re not allowed to be. And some people set up remote cameras. – [Devin] Yeah, I didn’t
know how that works. – So basically, they were setting up Sound triggers and when
the rocket goes off, It’s close enough in. There’s no sound delay, right? So it’s setting off the camera And they’re taking shots like rapid-fire. – [Devin] I loved how they had Those weird little enclosures. Some of em looked like
they were 20, 30 years old. – Yeah, one was just a mailbox. (Devin laughs) – I’ve never been that close To a launch site obviously, And this was a historic pad too. This was 39A where they
launched Apollo missions, What else? – [Darrell] Space Shuttle missions – [Devin] Space Shuttle missions
they launched from there. And now we have this
amazing three booster, Just super-unprecedented
launch from SpaceX, And everything went great. – They could have landed the third– The core booster, which
missed the drone ship And then– – [Devin] By not that far, but actually, It’s probably better that
it didn’t hit it directly. – Yeah, yeah. – Cause it was going 300 miles an hour.

– Definitely could have been worse. – So day of, we had a
lot of delays though, I was really worried. We thought it was not gonna go for a while Cause we were just sitting there, We got on this bus and, you know, They said, ”Oh, it’s
delayed by half an hour ”because of the high winds.” Like what we’ve got right now. And we’re like, ”Okay,
sure, yeah, that’s normal.” And then they’re like, ”Oh, we’re gonna delay another half hour.” And then another, and then another– – [Darrell] And once they
start stacking like that, And it’s always about
these high wind advisories, At least the people where I was, Probably where you were too, Started saying, you know, There’s a lot of just talk
of just what’s gonna happen. And a lot of them were saying, ”Oh, it’s probably not gonna go off.” Like we’re getting too close
too the end of the window, It’s probably not gonna happen, Just based on, I guess, past experience. But that’s something you don’t get When you’re remote, too, right. You don’t get all the that, You don’t get the people Just sorta kinda sharing information, Trying to see what’s going on. You can listen in to the
official count, right, And the updates as SpaceX gets them, But people are just
kinda making theories too And figuring stuff out on their own.

– [Devin] Yeah, there’s
people who’d been to You know, 10, 20, 30 launches, Like just veterans who live in this area And they were using like
all their local knowledge. There was a guy who just
had a pin for everything, His entire hat was covered in pins. He’s gonna have to get a new hat soon. (laughs) – [Devin] But eventually the
launch did actually go off. But we were in different places, We had a couple different people here. I was with VM, we were on the causeway, This sort of bridge area,
beautiful little beach, And we had this great view of you know Directly out of the
rocket and sort of went Right sort of up over us kinda. It was really hard to get a shot of him I managed to get the last couple seconds. But they came in so fast.
– Yeah. – They were just like woosh! And then you would see– Like, I had no idea this is
what it was gonna be like. I had no idea what to expect. – [Darrell] Yeah. – But they came down all of a sudden. It was like a UFO landing or something. And then they popped. They were just like (imitates rockets), They started burning, And then there were four sonic booms. I didn’t know to expect
any sonic booms at all And it startled the hell out of me. I was holding the camera
and it’s like whoa! (laughs) – We were in the exploration tower

Which is out here in the
cape, like not on base. It was a really unimpeded view of both And I could capture with one camera The wide shot of both the
takeoff and the landing zones. We had a guy there who was just basically Talking us through what was gonna happen, And he was amazingly spot on. Like he was just like,
”Okay, you’re gonna look here ”and this where your
reentry burn is gonna be ”for the returning boosters.” And you know, we’d look and there it was. His timing was like, right on. – That’s amazing that they
have that depth of knowledge. That’s what I’m learning as someone who’s Just starting to cover the space industry. That there’s so much custom
and so much tradition And all this stuff, This huge body of knowledge
that you build up. The one thing we didn’t get to do Was get on top of the
vehicle assembly building. – [Darrell] Yeah. Famous NASA building. And I really wanted to go up. They said I was gonna go up on it And then they took that away from me. – Yeah well (laughs) – And Buzz was there. Buzz Aldrin was just a couple of feet away From the press center, But we didn’t get to talk
to him, unfortunately. (laughs) But we got to see a awesome rocket launch. Yeah, I think it was
an amazing experience. I learned a lot about how this all works

And I don’t know, I’m just so happy That everything went off successfully. Yeah, it was like, just fabulous. – Yeah, I mean for both of us, Couldn’t have asked for
a better first experience Of a rocket launch. It’s historic, it went off
smoothly, it was great. – Yeah. – Super-impressive. Can’t wait to see what they do next. They got lots of stuff coming out.

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