March 9, 2016

By: Festiva Getaways

What's the Best Way to Watch a Rocket Launch in Central Florida

One of my fondest memories as a child was when my father awakened me well before dawn and piled me into a car with my brothers to go see the Space Shuttle launch. We drove a few hours, parked on the shore across from Cape Canaveral, and did more than watch the mighty machine blast off, we FELT it.

That was not the first shuttle launch I watched, but it was the closest I ever got to one. Growing up in Central Florida, it was common and easy to see a shuttle launch. For the most part, you stepped out of your front door and looked east to see the contrail left by the rocket boosters pushing the shuttle into the heavens. I don't think there was a school in all of Central Florida that didn't have its entire population run outside to watch a launch.

Although, sadly, the shuttle fleet has been retired, there are still regular rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center that pack a visceral thrill. If you are vacationing in Central Florida, there are many ways you can catch a launch.

First, a caveat: rocket launches are very fickle things. They don't often go up when scheduled. Well, to be honest, they rarely do. So don't schedule your day too tightly around them or you may miss your next event waiting for the countdown to end.

But, if you're willing to exert a little patience, there are several ways to enjoy a rocket launch. So long as you become good friends with the launch schedule, you'll know when a launch might coincide with your vacation. The Cape fires off Atlas and Delta rockets pretty regularly, so it's a good chance you'll be in town for one.

Obviously, the closer to the launch site, the better. If you plan a visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for a scheduled launch day, you can purchase an additional ticket that puts you as close to the launch as civilians are allowed to be. As mentioned before, launches are fickle and a ticket does not guarantee that the launch will happen that day. Before you buy tickets for your family, you need to read over the Launch Scrub Policy to understand your options should the rocket not go up.

If you don't want to spend your day learning about the history of the space program and meeting an astronaut, you can still get a closer view of the launch on one of the nearby public beaches. This will allow you to use your time before and after the launch to explore the many fine local shops and restaurants Titusville has to offer.

Or if you've made plans to be at a theme park or another area attraction, don't fret. Yes, you'll be many miles away, but you'll have the fact that Florida is flat, flat state working in your favor. There are no natural obstructions to your view of the coast from just about anywhere. Just keep an eye on your watch and you'll be able to stop and look east for a view of the rocket heading into orbit. If you're in your hotel, head to the top floor and find an east facing window. Even at halfway across the state, it's still a sight to behold.