Wednesday 28 September 2022

Watching a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida

Whenever we are in Florida we always check the rocket launch schedule. A few years ago we were lucky enough to see an Atlas V rocket launch, and this summer there were three launches scheduled while we were there, including the very highly anticipated Artemis I launch to the moon's orbit!

Cape Canaveral is about an hours drive from the Orlando area and costs around $7-$8 in tolls each way, so you want to be fairly sure that the launch is actually going to take place before you head out. Unfortunately the second launch was delayed until late at night so it wasn't practical for us. The Artemis launch was scheduled for our final day and we agonised for days over whether to risk the traffic before our flight. We decided reluctantly not to attempt it, which was the right decision as unfortunately the launch was cancelled at the last minute. It was a disappointment, although we did see the rocket on the launch pad when we visited the Kennedy Space Center.

Luckily we did manage to see one of the launches, which was a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching 53 Starlink Satellites. This time we wanted to watch it from somewhere that we could see the launchpad. so after lots of research Ram chose the Rocket Launch View Point which is located next to the Sands Space History Center alongside some of the SpaceX buildings. 

It was all extremely well organised. There was a police officer who directed us to the parking, then we crossed the road to a large grassy viewing area with portable toilets and tiered seating. It was very hot but we found a spot under a small tree to wait, then stood along the edge of the sea as the lift off time approached. It's definitely a good place to watch one of the less popular launches, we wouldn't have managed to get so close for the Artemis launch!

Rocket Launch Viewing Point Cape Canaveral Florida

The thing that surprises me most about watching a rocket launch is that because of the distance you see the rocket a long time before you hear it. So the rocket takes off in complete silence (apart from the gasps of the people around you!) and it is ages before you hear the roar. It's so bright that it hurts your eyes, and you can watch it as it ascends and then disappears leaving behind a trail of cloud. It's an incredible experience.

Watching a rocket launch in Florida

If you are visiting Orlando and a rocket launch is scheduled then I'd really recommend taking the time to fit it into your schedule. There is plenty of useful information about viewing times and locations online from the local experts. In particular we found Launch Rats really helpful as the best viewing locations can differ depending on the launchpad that is being used. 

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