CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Everything is moving ahead with a planned Thursday evening launch attempt of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta-IV medium rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s (CCAFS) Space Launch Complex 37. The Wideband Global Satellite 5 (WGS-5) will be the payload for this mission. As long as weather and technical issues allow, the launch is scheduled to occur tomorrow at 8:26 p.m. EDT. Engineers have roughly 32 minutes to get the rocket off the pad before the close of the launch window at 8:58 p.m. EDT.
For those interested in watching the launch, there are numerous spots up and down Florida’s Space Coast that offer great locations to view liftoff from. Some are superior, and others not so much. This is due in large part to the sheer size of CCAFS. This means that a great spot to watch an Atlas V or Falcon 9 is terrible when watching a Delta IV.
For those with a limited budget—but who want the best vantage point—Port Canaveral offers the best publicly accessible viewing location at the best price (Free!). You can park your vehicle almost anywhere along SR-528 Bennett Causeway or on Route 401 behind Port Canaveral and get a good view of the launch site. The distance between Port and Cape Canaveral is approximately nine miles. It’ll take a little while for the sound of launch to reach you—but given that this bird is using solid rocket boosters, it packs a punch.
If you are in Titusville, you can stop along HWY-1 and watch the launch from there. However, it is considerably farther from the launch pad than locations around Port Canaveral.
For those with a bit of funds—who are wanting to be immersed in spaceflight history—there are the tours offered by the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Visitor Complex opens daily at 7 a.m. EDT. If you do select to view the launch from here, you might want to purchase a specific package that will take you out to a viewing site, as the general viewing locations at the Complex are not all that great.
HOW TO GET TO PORT CANAVERAL: Take SR-528, or the “Beachline” as it is commonly known, from the west, or 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. 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 water’s edge.
Currently, everything is proceeding for this fifth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-5) spacecraft. The mission is set to liftoff on a ULA Delta IV Thursday, May 23 from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. As it stands now, the forecast provides a 40 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch.
This review pulls heavily from earlier articles written by Zero G News’ Mike Killian
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