Your All-Inclusive Guide to Space Coast Rocket Launch Locations
Whether you’re a Space Coast native or a visitor hoping to catch all of the magic of rocket launches, knowing the best spots to watch the launches can make or break your spectator experience.
Watching one of the most dramatic events on Earth up close and personal is a humbling experience that everyone should get to see at least once. Viewing the launches in real life gives you a glimpse into the sheer magnitude of power needed to propel the rocket into space.
With companies like SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance reviving the excitement around space travel, there are more opportunities than ever to visit Florida’s Space Coast and experience a launch. In fact, there are more than 30 launches scheduled for just 2018 alone!
We’ve compiled an all-inclusive guide on the best ways and locations to catch a launch in order to ensure that you have a stellar rocket launch experience.
What Are the Best Spots to Watch Launches?
Although generic launch locations on the Space Coast are a dime a dozen, experiencing takeoff at the best launch locations will make the spectator experience unforgettable.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the first spot that pops into mind as the number one way to get the full launch experience. However, if you don’t want to spend too much money on your rocket launch experience or if you’ve already seen a launch at the Visitor Complex, here are some places you should check out.
Playalinda Beach. Playalinda Beach is located just 6 miles north from the launch pad and is one of the closest viewing locations found on the Space Coast. Because this beach is located inside of a national park there is an entrance fee of $10. Experience a fun-filled day at the beach with your friends and family with the added excitement of having a front row seat to an up close and personal rocket launch. The park is open from dawn to dusk, so unfortunately, this park is out for those late night launches. Plus, be sure to check their website since there are some launches that the park is closed for due to safety reasons.
Space View Park. Space View Park is another Space Coast fan favorite location. Space View Park is located 15 miles across from the launch pads and offers a stunning view of launches from across the Indian River Lagoon. The park also has live audio streaming directly from NASA’s control room for the complete rocket launch experience.
Rotary Riverfront Park. Rotary Riverfront Park is also located on the Indian River Lagoon across from the launch pads. This park offers a completely unobstructed view of the launch for an extraordinary viewing experience.
Max Brewer Bridge. Max Brewer Bridge is another great spot to catch the excitement of a rocket launch. The bridge is closed on launch days to ensure that pedestrians can safely enjoy free range on the bridge while watching rockets take off.
Exploration Tower. Located in Port Canaveral, the Exploration Tower offers a truly unique way to watch rockets take off. The tower features an outdoor observation deck fully equipped with telescopes to watch the rocket as it takes off and makes its way into the cosmos. Interactive exhibits bring the space program to life and inspire visitors with all of the wonder of the origins of the space program. Keep in mind that Exploration Tower closes at 7 p.m. but many restaurants nearby in The Cove offer great views too.
What Are Some Unique Ways to Watch Launches?
Sometimes just watching the launches from a viewing spot isn’t enough. Thrill seekers and adrenaline addicts are always looking for the next best way to experience launches.
If you consider yourself in this category of people check out some of the unconventional ways people have experienced rocket launches.
In a Helicopter. What better way to experience a launch than directly parallel to it in the sky! Well, maybe not directly parallel – you know, for safety reasons. Helicopter flights from Beachside Helicopters will fly right outside of the restricted airspace and give you an unforgettable launch experience.
On a Boat or Kayak. Whether it’s a nighttime or a daytime launch, watching a launch from the water offers a truly unique viewing experience. Being on the water will ensure you get a completely unobstructed view away from large crowds and other view blockers. If you’re driving the boat, please make sure you stay out of the restricted areas surrounding the launch.
I Can’t Make the Next Launch – How Can I Still Experience the Magic?
Although nothing quite beats the thrill of a real life rocket launch, watching a live stream of it on our official rocket launch app is the next best thing.
Besides a live video stream, the app also features mission details, information on the rocket type, and a compass used to locate the exact direction from which the launch will occur.
Keep Up With Launch Viewing Opportunities
If you’re looking to plan a trip to the Space Coast to view a rocket launch, our app also has a section specifically dedicated to launch schedules. Launch dates are announced by NASA around a month before the launch is set to happen.
Launch times and dates are on a NET basis, meaning “No Earlier Than.” Because of Florida’s often unpredictable weather conditions — and the volatility of the rocket itself — launch times and dates are subject to change.
Downloading the official Space Coast Launches app on the app store can help you best plan your trip and give you real-time updates so you’re fully aware of schedule changes at all times. Download the free app today on your Apple or Android device.