Upwards of 100,000+ people are expected to descend upon Florida’s Space Coast on Wednesday, all in anticipation of witnessing the second launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, which will fly its first commercial mission for a paying customer from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
Liftoff with the Saudi Arabsat-6A satellite is currently scheduled for 6:35pm Eastern U.S. time, but on-site access is extremely restrictive, so where can the public go for good views?
It really depends on what you’d rather see; the launch or the landings a few miles south?
If you lean more towards a good view of launch, Playalinda Beach is your best bet. But you’ll need to arrive early and basically camp all day, because Canaveral National Seashore will close as soon as they reach capacity (they only have room for roughly 1200 vehicles). They open at 6am, and you’ll need to pay an entrance fee (the first Falcon Heavy launch in 2018 they filled to capacity by 9am, just FYI).
Additionally, the neighboring National Wildlife Refuge will shut down to incoming traffic at 1:30pm.
Follow our LAUNCH TRACKER for updates and LIVE COVERAGE on launch day!
Another popular area is the nearby Max Brewer Bridge which connects the city of Titusville to the Refuge & northern KSC. However, local authorities advise they will shut the bridge down to traffic; only foot traffic will be allowed. So if you don’t mind good exercise (the bridge is a great workout) then this may be worth considering. There is plenty of shoreline at the north end of the bridge too, giving lots of room for spectators willing to make the hike.
From here, any area south along HWY-1 in Titusville makes for a great launch view, and you’ll see the rocket’s side boosters make their landing attempts as well just south on Cape Canaveral AFS, but you’ll be far from both (even moreso the landings). If you arrive early enough you can grab these spots for free along the water, as there are several grassy areas for just this reason, but they are first come first serve. You’ll also be within easy access of public facilities such as bathrooms, gas stations and restaurants, which could make for a great idea post-launch because traffic in the area will be gridlocked for some time.
The nearby American Space Museum and Space Walk of Fame also makes an additional fantastic bonus for anyone wanting to kill some time before launch, or even to come back the next day. If you appreciate the history of American human spaceflight, from the place where it all happened, then you need to visit this incredible gem in the heart of Titusville.
If you’re more interested in a descent landing view (and louder sonic booms from landing), then you’ll need to locate south around Port Canaveral and Jetty Park (will close as soon as they are full), and the public beaches just south.
Parking will be limited and traffic in and around the Port will be controlled to ensure public safety, ease traffic congestion and promote a safe arrival and departure from the Port. Launch watchers should decide in advance where to park their car and follow signs to their desired lot at Port Canaveral.
There are, however, some things to keep in mind, especially for folks who may be used to simply showing up and thinking they can just find a random spot like in the past.
Parking in Port parking lots will cost $15 and is cash only, and due to arriving and departing cruise ship traffic, anyone planning to watch the launch from Port Canaveral is strongly encouraged to delay arriving until after 2:00pm, and no parking will be allowed anywhere along SR 401 or SR 528.
If you plan to watch from in or around the Port, you need to click here and review the information to aid your planning and know what to expect.
The latest launch weather forecasts from the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict an 80% chance of favorable condition expected during Wednesday’s launch window, which runs from 6:35pm to 8:32pm Eastern.
Should the launch slip to Thursday, the forecast improves to 90%, with some isolated showers and cumulus clouds the only threat to launch.
Don’t forget to read our preview of the launch and the Arabsat 6A mission HERE!
If you don’t mind spending some cash the KSC Visitor Complex is selling viewing tickets in two different packages, but keep in mind that viewing from the Visitor Complex itself may not be preferable to you because you cannot see the pad (treeline), nor will you see the boosters landing. The Saturn V Viewing Center provides for a better view of launch and is closer to the pad (with a clear view), but is quite far for viewing the landings (click here to review their packages).
The bottom line is to just arrive early, and not assume your old viewing spots are still fair game, do your homework – you’ll be glad you did.