There’s something incredible about watching a live rocket launch out of Cape Canaveral. The experience is absolutely breathtaking as you listen for the countdown, see the rocket propel itself into the atmosphere and feel its rumble shake the earth.
To get the most out of the experience, you’ll want to be in the right place at the right time, which may require a bit of planning. We have the answers to some of the frequently asked questions to help guide you through the logistics of launch day.
- Can I see a launch from Orlando?
On a clear day and especially in the evening you may be able to get a glimpse of a rocket launching out of Cape Canaveral. However, even if you’re watching from a high rise, you may only be able to see it for a second or so with the interference of city lights. We recommend making the hour trip out to Florida’s Space Coast to get the best possible views of liftoff.
- Can I watch a launch from Playalinda Beach?
Playalinda Beach at the Canaveral National Seashore is located just six miles north of the launch pads and can be an incredible spot to watch a launch, not to mention you can spend a great day on the beach while you’re there. However, you’ll want to check the national parks website before you head out, because depending on which launch pad the launch is taking place on, the park may be closed for safety reasons. Keep in mind it is $5 a car to get into the park and the hours of the park are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in summer, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter.
- Why do launches get scrubbed?
Launches can be scrubbed due to technical issues or inclement weather. Rockets are built to monitor and pick up on any abnormal operations, and when they pick up on something such as a small pressure drop or a bad sensor, the system will shut itself down. Additionally, rockets are not like airplanes in the sense that they can’t simply bypass a thunderstorm. In order to get to a certain orbit and location in space to perform the mission, they have to depart at a certain time and direction.
- What do I do if a launch is scrubbed?
While it may be frustrating when a launch is scrubbed, it’s important to understand that it is much safer and less expensive to reschedule a launch than to risk failing the mission. If you came from out of town to watch the launch and it ended up being scrubbed, no need to worry. Chances are they will try again the same time (or close to it) the following day in order to lift off within the appropriate window. There are plenty of affordable Space Coast hotels if you’d like to stay the night and wait for the next launch. Trust us, launches are a bucket-list experience that will definitely be worth the wait.
- Who decides the launch schedule?
The launch schedule is decided by NASA’s launch team and is based on numerous factors including the flight's target and goals, the needs of the spacecraft, the type of rocket, and the desired trajectory, or the path the vehicle and spacecraft must take to successfully start the mission. The ideal time of departure to get the rocket to the needed location is set within a launch window that can range from one second to several hours.
- Where’s the best place to see a daytime launch?
All along Florida’s Space Coast you can catch stunning views of rockets launching out of Cape Canaveral. If you’re willing to pay admission into the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex ($50 for adults) you’ll be right up close to the action. However, Space View Park in Titusville is a personal favorite. The name of the park really says it all as you’ll be able to sit riverfront with an unobstructed view of the launch pads. Located just 15 miles across the river, you can watch the launch in amazement while listening in on a live audio feed directly from the NASA control room.
- Where’s the best place to see a nighttime launch?
Watch the skies light up during a nighttime launch from a couple of our favorite launch viewing locations. Head to the Max Brewer Bridge located at the end of SR 406/Garden St. in Titusville where you can have an incredible spot to view nighttime launches and look out onto the waters of the Indian River. On launch days, they close the bridge to vehicle traffic, so pedestrians can safely watch the launches. Or head to Port Canaveral’s Exploration Tower where you can watch as cruise ships sail by and rockets launch into the night sky.
For more information on rocket launches out of Kennedy Space Center or to discover more incredible viewing locations on Florida’s Space Coast, click here.