Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, is scheduled to launch their Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket this Sunday at 8:35 p.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40. The mission aims to send their Dragon spacecraft on the first contracted U.S. commercial cargo resupply mission (known as mission CRS-1) to the International Space Station (ISS).
When it comes to viewing launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, some places are better than others. Cape Canaveral covers a lot of ground, so a location that is good for watching one type of rocket lift off might not necessarily be the best place for watching another.
The best free publicly accessible viewing location will be Port Canaveral or anywhere along HWY-1 in Titusville. Anywhere along the SR-528 Bennett Causeway or along Route 401 behind the Port will do the job of offering a great view of the Falcon’s climb to orbit. However, at a distance of over 10 miles, the sound will be more of a low rumble, rather than a powerful concussive sound people typically associate with a launch. Anywhere along HWY-1 in Titusville also presents some fantastic public viewing areas for this launch vehicle, but again the distance of over 10 miles from SLC-40 will present a viewer with a low rumble at best.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering guests prime viewing from the NASA Causeway, selling launch viewing tickets for $20.00 in addition to park admission (click HERE to purchase tickets). The location is only 3-4 miles from the Falcon-9 rocket, and offers the public the best possible unobstructed view for this launch. Additional viewing opportunities will be available at no extra charge from the Visitor Complex itself, although that location is not ideal for watching any rocket launch. Call 866-737-5235 for more information.
HOW TO GET TO PORT CANAVERAL: Take SR-528 or the “Beachline” as it is commonly known as from the west, AIA from the east (A1A turns into SR-528 if you’re coming from Cocoa Beach). Take ‘”Exit A North Terminals” and follow the road (Route 401) across the small drawbridge and around the curve which brings you behind the port. On the left side of the road is where you can watch the launch from. Best part? It’s free! Space is limited, so arrive early. you can also skip the port all together and watch the launch from the grassy field areas along the SR-528 Bennett Causeway, just keep an eye out for other people and vehicles parked along the waters edge.
SpaceX currently holds a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to carry out twelve supply runs to the ISS. Last spring the company successfully demonstrated their ability to launch to the ISS, resupply the orbiting outpost, and return safely back to Earth.