7 Tips for First Time Launch Spectators

If you’re a first time Space Coast Launch spectator, you’re probably buzzing with excitement over getting to experience a rocket launch. You’re also probably wondering what steps you can take to make the most out of this unique experience. If you think watching launches online or on TV gets your adrenaline pumping, then watching a real-life, high-octane rocket launch will really knock your socks off. Charge up your camera and follow these tips for the ultimate first time rocket launch experience.  

1. Pick a Location.

Although Kennedy Space Center seems like the most obvious choice, there are tons of spectacular, lesser known options to consider when choosing from locations to watch launches from. You’ll come to find that if you choose a location that isn’t as popular as some of the obvious locations, you’ll have a better overall viewing experience. For an in depth look at all of our favorite rocket launch viewing spots, read our most recent blog on viewing location FAQs.  

2. Expect Crowds.

Rocket launches bring in a projected 100,000 tourists to the Space Coast area per launch. If you’re not one to stand for crowds, or if you’re bringing young kids or elderly family members who do better in places that are less packed, try looking for alternative locations to watch the rocket. Check out locations like Playalinda Beach and Rotary Riverfront Park that typically offer less crowded spaces and unobstructed views of the launch.  

3. Check the Weather.

If you’re not from Florida, there’s a good chance you don’t understand the weather uncertainty that native Floridians experience on a day-to-day basis – especially throughout the summer. What seems like a perfect day for rocket spectatorship could turn into a 75 percent chance of scattered showers in a matter of an hour. Not only can a rainy day make being outdoors with your family inconvenient and sometimes dangerous, it is usually an indication that the rocket launch will be scrubbed. Download the official Space Coast Launches app to ensure you’re up to date with all scrubbing decisions and schedule changes. Which brings us to our next point.  

4. Be Flexible.

Rocket launches may seem like a theme park attraction, but you have to keep in mind that rocket launches are more or less controlled bombs exploding to propel giant pieces of metal into space. Sounds extreme – and that’s because it is. A lot of factors go into the safe and timely launch of a rocket, so when a launch is scrubbed it just means the conditions were not perfect for take off.   If a launch is scrubbed, don’t be disappointed! Scrubs will usually get rescheduled for the next available launch date and you’ll usually get a refund for admissions to most viewing locations. If you’re visiting from out of town, make sure to schedule a few days out on the Space Coast to give yourself leeway for potential scrubs. Because the Space Coast is riddled with beautiful beaches, nature trails, and attractions, it won’t be hard to occupy your time for a few extra days on the coast.  

5. Arrive Early.

When it comes to rocket launches, the early bird really does get the worm. If you know you’re planning on going to a popular viewing location, get there early to secure a prime spot. Many people will go as far as camping out the night before (venue permitting) if the launch is early enough.  

6. Prepare for Sun and Heat.

Just an hour in the hot Florida sun is enough to make anyone feel like they’re melting. Make sure you’re equipped with all of the necessary items to keep you and your family safe and sunburn-free. Some items to pack in your day bag include plenty of water, hats, sunscreen and portable fans if you have small kids or elderly family members.  

7. Make a Picnic Day Out of It.

Bringing snacks and games to Playalinda Beach or Space View Park is the perfect way to combine a first-time rocket launch experience with a family-fun picnic day. If you’re viewing a night launch, you can turn this opportunity into a romantic date with a significant other by bringing food and drinks to watch the rocket launch from one of the many nighttime viewing spots. Alternatively, if you don’t feel like bringing your own food, restaurants like Shiloh’s Steak and Seafood and Dogs R Us offer great views of rocket launches and great food to go along with it.   For more information on rocket launches, download our official Space Coast Launches app on the app store to see the launch schedule and launch schedule updates. Can’t make it to the next launch? Watch live footage of the launches on the app or on our website!