Rocket Launch Viewing Guide for Cape Canaveral
Atlas 5, Delta 4, Falcon 9, Minotaur 4
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Page updated Jul 27
NEXT LAUNCH

Falcon 9 / August 14 @ 12:35pm EDT: Check back closer to launch for confirmation on
whether Playalinda Beach (3.6 miles) will be open. Tickets are likely to be available to view
from the Saturn V Center as well (3.9 miles). Check back for more information.


--------------

This section outlines the next few launch dates for each of the rockets launching from Cape Canaveral:

ATLAS 5

The next United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, flying in the 401 configuration
with no solid rocket boosters, will launch NASA's next Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M,
on
mid-August TBD at about 8am EDT. The launch window stretches 40 minutes. The launch time
gets 3-4 minutes earlier each day. After that, an Atlas 5 with two SRBs will launch NROL-52 for the
National Reconnaissance Office on
September 25, likely sometime between 11:00am and 4:00pm
EDT.


FALCON 9

The next SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral will launch a Dragon capsule on a resupply
mission to the International Space Station on
August 14 at 12:35pm EDT. The launch window is
instantaneous. This Falcon 9 will land its first stage back at Cape Canaveral a few minutes after liftoff.
Then, a Falcon 9 will launch fifth X-37B OTV mission for the US Air Force on
September 7. This
Falcon 9 will land its first stage back at Cape Canaveral a few minutes after liftoff. Then, a Falcon 9
will launch the SES-11 communication satellite on
late September. The upcoming Falcon 9 launches
are from Pad 39A.


MINOTAUR 4

The first launch of a Minotaur rocket from Cape Canaveral, carrying ORS-5 for the US Air Force, is
scheduled for
August 25 at 11:15pm EDT. The launch window stretches four hours.


DELTA 4

The next Delta 4 launch from Cape Canaveral is not before Spring 2018. A Delta 4 medium version,
currently the penultimate launch of this version, will carry the first next-generation Block III Global
Positioning System satellite, GPS III-1. If not that mission, the next Delta 4-Heavy is planned for July
31, 2018, at 10:07am EDT, carrying NASA's Parker Solar Probe (PSP) mission.
In this very wide-angle view, a Delta 4 rocket launches into space at sunset in July
2015, as seen from a riverside spot near Port Canaveral.
KEEPING UPDATED

Information on each launch, its launch date and the latest status on weather and
technical issues during a launch countdown can be found at
www.SpaceflightNow.com and the "mission status center" they provide each time.
You should continue to check the status of the launch up until you leave your
home, as well as after you leave on your smartphone.

You can also watch a live webcast of every launch on your smartphone (in the
same mission status center page) (NOTE: this has not been working for iphones
lately), but keep in mind the webcast audio is usually on a delay of anywhere from
10 or 20 seconds to a minute, so the launch may take place while they still appear
to be counting down on the audio ("t-20 seconds!" for example). The webcasts are
also available directly from spacex.com, ulalaunch.com (and nasa.gov/ntv for
NASA missions).

Twitter is also a good place to stay updated these days, following
@SpaceflightNow, @ULAlaunch, @SpaceX and a few other accounts such as
@torybruno or @elonmusk. Updates may also be found for some launches on a
scanner at 146.9400, a local radio repeater which rebroadcasts the official launch
coverage audio. This may also be on a delay depending on the launch.

Finally, you can keep track of future Cape Canaveral launch dates right here on
this page, or on the Spaceflight Now
launch schedule.

If you have further questions, or want to know how to photograph launches,
please
ask.
A 2009 Atlas 5 launch as seen from Playalinda Beach. This version had no solid strap-on boosters and
therefore no smoke trail coming from the rocket. This photo was taken with a telephoto lens.
The NASA causeway, if ever offered, would have viewing from as close as 6.5 miles away on the western end. And finally, at 7.4 miles but with no clear view of the pad, is the Visitor
Complex itself. When Playalinda Beach is closed and no tickets are offered by the Visitor Complex, such as for night launches, Titusville is the best place to view Falcon 9 launches from Pad
39A, at 11.3 to 12.0 miles away. The best spot is the Max Brewer Bridge (Rt. 406) across the river which leads towards Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Playalinda Beach. It is
slightly closer (11.3) on the east side of the bridge. Anyplace along the river in Titusville is good, and also nice is Space View Park just south of the bridge. There are a couple of other parks
farther south along the river in Titusville as well. I recommend the bridge for an elevated view. Finally, Port Canaveral (Rt. 401), at over 13 miles away, is a final option to recommend. But it
is unnecessary to view from the Port when Titusville will get you a drop closer. (Note: The LC-39 observation gantry, at just one mile away from 39A, will not be an option for these Falcon
launches as it is inside the blast danger area).

However, when the Falcon 9 first stage is scheduled to make a land-based landing back at Cape Canaveral, you should consider going to Port Canaveral to watch launch, as it has a much closer
view of landing and therefore is a good spot for both. See below for more information.


FALCON 9 LAUNCHES FROM PAD 40

Falcon 9 rockets also launch from Complex 40 (28.562 N, 80.577 W). The pad was heavily damaged in a September 1, 2016 explosion and is currently out of commission until late-2017.

For Pad 40, the best spot for Falcon 9 launches is the LC-39 Observation Gantry via tickets through the KSC Visitor Complex, as first described above. This is just 3.4 miles away from the
launch pad 40. Similarly, if offered, the NASA causeway offers viewing at just 4.0 miles from the pad. Playalinda (6.3 mile obstructed view) and the Saturn V Center (also 6.3 miles but clear
view) are all options. Playalinda is obstructed depending on what spot you are in. If you walk down the beach to get to the 6.3 mile mark, you cannot see the pad. If you stay back by the
parking area or along the road to the beach, you have a clearer view but are 7.1-7.3 miles away. The Visitor Complex itself is 6.7 miles from the pad but offers no view of the pad itself
(obscured by the tree line as with Atlas 5). Port Canaveral's Route 401 (10.3 miles) is the closest and best spot otherwise, and the place to go for off-hours launches.


FALCON 9 FIRST STAGE LANDINGS

For some launches, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will attempt to return and land back at Cape Canaveral about eight minutes after liftoff. Landings take place at Landing Zone 1, which
used to be called Launch Complex 13 (
28.486 N, 80.545 W), used from the 1950s-70s. It is right next to where John Glenn and three other Mercury astronauts became the first Americans to
orbit the Earth starting in 1962. As the pad is about 5.6 miles south of Complex 40 and 9.2 south of pad 39A, the viewing is different than for launch. The best place to see the landings (if
you want to focus on this instead of launch for your viewing location) is Jetty Park (see below), which is 6.0 miles from the landing site (but from which launch pads 40 and 39 are not visible
themselves). From the pier in Jetty Park, Complex 13 is almost lined up with old Delta 2 Complex 17 perfectly, so use that as a reference point. Alternatively you can stick with Port
Canaveral (Rt. 401), and be 6.9 miles from landing. The NASA causeway (4 to 5 miles from landing depending on the area) is also good if ever offered and the best place for both launch and
landing combined. The Saturn V Center (11 miles) has no great view of landing. Playalinda Beach (12-13 miles from landing) and other northern areas are not recommended if viewing landing is
your concern due to their distance. For photos, it is very difficult to get a great shot of the landing from any location, so keep that in mind. Port Canaveral is marginally better for photos.


DELTA 4 LAUNCH VIEWING

Delta 4 rockets launch from Pad 37B (Google Earth/Maps coordinates 28.531 N, 80.564 W). The closest possible viewing now offered for Delta 4 is from the NASA causeway (2.7-3.0 miles
away) and the LC-39 Observation Gantry (5.5 miles away), through tickets sold by the
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. As with the others, tickets will not be offered for all
launches, especially if the launch time is outside of normal business hours. The KSC Visitor Complex, another option, (again during business hours only) is a distance of 7.1 miles, and the
view, while not as good, is also not terrible. From the grass lawn behind the Atlantis exhibit, in the area closest to the corner of the two main roads, the pad is ever so slightly out of view
looking up SR 405, and the rocket visible as soon as it lifts off. In other areas of the Visitor Complex, it will be obstructed. The best and closest free view, and the place to go during other
times, is Port Canaveral on Route 401 (8.6 miles clear across water). There is no major advantage in viewing Delta 4 launches from any other location. Equally distant from the Port, the Saturn
V Center, another ticketed stop on the bus tours they offer, does offer a clear view and is also just over 8 miles exactly from the pad. So that is also a good possibility if you prefer to combine
your viewing with a tour of the space center.


MINOTAUR 4 LAUNCH VIEWING

In late 2017, a smaller Minotaur rocket is set to lift off from Cape Canaveral for the first time. The launch will take place from Complex 46 (28.458 N, 80.529 W), located at the tip of Cape
Canaveral proper. The complex previously hosted two space launches (of an Athena rocket), in January of 1998 and 1999. The closest and best place to view this launch will be Jetty Park,
with a beautiful, clear 5.0 mile view. No other locations will offer a closer or better place to watch, even with tickets.
A daytime Falcon 9 launch from Pad 40 in July 2014, as seen from the NASA
causeway.
SECTION 1: LAUNCH VIEWING SUMMARY

For quick reference, you just need to read this section. This gives visitors the information they need to know right away about where to go. Just make sure you know what rocket it is that
you are planning to go see lift off because each one is a little different and takes off from a different location. For more details on these viewing sites you can continue reading the next section
below. This is the only completely accurate launch viewing guide on the internet. I have personally verified all details over 18 years and 175 launches of experience and have accurately
measured all distances to within less than one-tenth of a mile. Please note that other potential closer locations you may see on a map and which are not mentioned below are not open to the
public or are either on private property or in an unsafe viewing location.
Note first that each of the different rockets uses its own separate launch pad (Complex 39A, 41, 40,
37B and 46, respectively, from north to south). The launch pads at Cape Canaveral are separated by a
couple of miles, so viewing is different for each one. I frequently get questions by email about which is
the best rocket to come see. Unfortunately, the answer is more complicated than you might expect, as
each of the three rockets can alternate for the winner of 'best viewing' depending on what time of day
they are launching and whether the KSC Visitor Complex is offering tickets to get to an even closer
spot, which only occurs for some launches. Read the sections below for more information. Check back
again for new launches coming soon. In summer 2017, the smaller Minotaur rocket will come to the
Cape for the first time and launch from Complex 46. And in the near future, the new startup Blue
Origin will bring launches back to old Complex 36. Both pads are close to Port Canaveral and Jetty
Park and will have great viewing. So keep checking back!


ATLAS 5 LAUNCH VIEWING

Atlas 5 rockets launch from Pad 41 (28.583 N, 80.583 W). It is now possible to view some Atlas 5
launches from as close as just 2.3 miles away at the LC-39 Observation Gantry by buying tickets sold
by the
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Keep in mind this site could deemed off-limits at the
last minute due to wind direction (a safety concern) because of the short distance to the pad. But, this
is by far the new best place to view and the closest viewing of any kind for any launch. Playalinda
Beach is the next closest place, and also is the best spot outside the space center, at just 4.8 miles from
the launch pad once you walk down the beach. It is also the closest free or low cost ($10) viewing site
for any rocket. However, it is not open for night launches (operating hours are 6am-8pm summer
months, 6am-6pm winter months). The NASA causeway offers viewing of 5.0 to 5.2 miles from Pad
41 and is a great view across water. As with the other ticketed options, this site is not always available.
The Saturn V Center (5.4 miles), another stop on the KSC Visitor Complex tours, is an excellent option
as well for Atlas 5 launches, accessed by taking the bus tour at the Visitor Complex with launch day
tickets. The Visitor Complex itself is 7.1 miles away, but in the case of Atlas 5 offers no direct line of
sight to the pad itself, which is behind the tree line. You'll see it once it lifts off. For off-hours/night
launches, when no tickets are being sold by the Visitor Complex and Playalinda Beach is closed, the
best option for Atlas 5 launches is Port Canaveral on Route 401, at 11.7 miles from the pad. In that
case it is the 'furthest closest' viewing site of any rocket.


FALCON 9 LAUNCHES FROM PAD 39A

Falcon 9 rockets launch from two pads. One is Complex 39A (28.608 N, 80.604 W), formerly the
home of the Space Shuttle from 1981 to 2011 and the Apollo Saturn V from 1967 to 1972. The closest
place to view the launch is Playalinda Beach at 3.6 miles, when open for daytime launches. It was first
open for Falcon launches from this pad beginning in June 2017. Spectators are allowed to watch from
the beach parking lot areas (3.6 miles distance), but may not walk down the beach to get closer or park
along the road leading to the beach. Playalinda is open from 6am to 8pm during daylight savings time
(summer hours) or 6am to 6pm during winter months. Next up is the Saturn V Center
with KSC Visitor
Complex tickets, at just 3.9 miles away. This used to be the VIP site for space shuttle launches and has
an excellent view clear across the water. Tickets are generally sold only for day launches or evening
launches within reasonable hours.
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HOW TO GET THERE

I am removing the directions section from the guide as of early 2017. Widespread use of smart phone map apps and the ability to type in, for example, "Playalinda Beach", "Kennedy Space
Center Visitor Complex" (for all sold tickets, go there), or "Route 401 Port Canaveral" makes it unnecessary at this point. Please email if you have any questions.
As seen from the NASA causeway 5.0 miles away, an Atlas 5 rocket speeds into orbit in the late afternoon of February 24, 2012. This version of the Atlas 5 had solid rocket motors attached,
and thus a smoke trail (rockets that do not have these do not leave one). This view shows almost exactly what you will see with the naked eye from this location. To the right (the other four
lightning towers) is Falcon 9 pad 40 at 4.0 miles away. Pad 39A, also Falcon 9, is just out of view to the left and further away.
REFERENCE PHOTOS

PHOTOS OF DELTA 4 LAUNCHES FROM LC-39 OBSERVATION GANTRY
Daytime, telephoto view of pad only


PHOTOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 40) FROM LC-39 GANTRY
Daytime - zoomed in
Daytime - actual view


PHOTOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM LC-39 OBSERVATION GANTRY
Daytime - telephoto


PHOTOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 39A) FROM SATURN V CENTER
Daytime - slight zoom
Daytime - telephoto


PHOTOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 39A) FROM PLAYALINDA BEACH
Daytime, zoomed in (2 photos)


PHOTOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM PLAYALINDA BEACH
Daytime, with SRBs - slight zoom, from parking lot stairs
Daytime, no SRBs - zoomed and wide
Daytime, with SRBs - actual view, taken from parking area
Daytime, no SRBs - actual
Daytime, with SRBs - zoomed in


PHOTOS OF DELTA 4 LAUNCHES FROM NASA CAUSEWAY
Daytime, with SRBs - telephoto
Daytime, with SRBs - medium zoom
Daytime, with SRBs - wide angle
Daytime, with SRBs - wide angle
Daytime, Heavy (no SRBs) - telephoto


PHOTOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM NASA CAUSEWAY
Daytime, with SRBs - zoomed in
Daytime, with SRBs - actual view
Daytime, with SRBs - telephoto
Daytime, with SRBs - zoomed in
Daytime, with SRBs - wide angle
Daytime, with SRBs - very wide angle


PHOTOS OF FALCON 9 (Pad 40) LAUNCHES FROM NASA CAUSEWAY
Daytime - telephoto
Daytime - slightly zoomed in
Daytime - actual view


PHOTOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM SATURN V CENTER
Daytime, with SRBs - actual view
Daytime, with SRBs - wide angle


PHOTOS OF DELTA 4 LAUNCHES FROM PORT CANAVERAL
Daytime - strong telephoto
Sunset - strong telephoto
Sunset - strong telephoto
Daytime - wide angle
Daytime, Delta 4-Heavy - strong telephoto
Sunset - wide angle


PHOTOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM PORT CANAVERAL
Daytime, no SRBs - strong telephoto
Daytime, no SRBs - strong telephoto
Daytime, with SRBs - actual view
Sunrise, with SRBs - actual view
Daytime, with SRBs - actual view
Daytime, with SRBs - strong telephoto
Daytime hazy day - strong telephoto


PHOTOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 40) FROM PORT CANAVERAL
Daytime - zoomed in
Daytime - moderate telephoto


PHOTOS/VIDEOS OF LAUNCHES FROM EXPLORATION TOWER AT PORT
Falcon 9 (best of three for telephoto only)
Atlas 5
Delta 4 (totally obstructed at liftoff)
Night launches can be spectacular, lighting up the entire area for a brief minute or two. On the left, a very wide angle photograph of an Atlas 5 launch from the NASA causeway. The short
'beam' of light is the result of the moving rocket after exposing the photo for a few seconds to capture the light properly. The sky is a blue hue here because of the full moon. On the right, the
space shuttle, which put out far more power and flame. Usually, the naked-eye color of the flame and night launches is a golden off-white color.
REFERENCE VIDEOS
Most videos cannot convey the sound of the launches properly

VIDEOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM LC-39 OBSERVATION GANTRY
Daytime - Wide angle


VIDEOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 40) FROM LC-39 GANTRY
Daytime - zoomed in
Daytime - wide angle


VIDEOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 39A) FROM PLAYALINDA BEACH
Daytime - wide
Daytime - zoomed


VIDEOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 39A) FROM SATURN V CENTER
Daytime - actual
Daytime - actual
Daytime - telephoto


VIDEOS OF DELTA 4 LAUNCHES FROM NASA CAUSEWAY
Daytime, cloudy, Delta 4-Heavy - Actual view
Daytime - Wider angle


VIDEOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 40) FROM NASA CAUSEWAY
Daytime - actual view
Daytime - actual view
Daytime - Zoomed and actual mix
Daytime - actual


VIDEOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM NASA CAUSEWAY
Daytime, cloudy - mostly zoomed in
Daytime - mostly zoomed in
Daytime - zoomed in


VIDEOS OF DELTA 4 LAUNCHES FROM VISITOR COMPLEX
Post-sunset, with SRBs - wide angle view
Similar, but wider angle view
Taken from Atlantis museum's lawn looking up SR 405. Pad is just barely hidden.


VIDEOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM PLAYALINDA BEACH
Daytime, with SRBs - zoomed in
Daytime, with SRBs - wide angle
Daytime, with SRBs - taken from road leading to beach


VIDEOS OF FALCON 9 (Pad 40) FROM PLAYALINDA BEACH
Daytime - actual view, taken from the fence line on elevated walkway
Daytime - zoomed in, from closer to parking area, partially obstructed


VIDEOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM SATURN V CENTER
Daytime, with SRBs - actual view
Daytime, with SRBs - wide angle


VIDEOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 39A) FROM TITUSVILLE
Daytime, actual view - windy day


VIDEOS OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHES FROM PORT CANAVERAL
Daytime, with SRBs - very wide angle, from Rt. 528


VIDEOS OF FALCON 9 LAUNCHES (Pad 40) FROM PORT CANAVERAL
Daytime - Taken from NASA causeway; identical to Port Canaveral but sound takes longer
to reach


VIDEOS OF DELTA 4 LAUNCHES FROM PORT CANAVERAL
Daytime, with SRBs - actual view
Nighttime, with SRBs - actual view
The following section contains links to photos, mostly from other viewers but some of my own on this website, showing the view of each of the rockets from each of the various viewing
locations. This should help you get an idea of what to expect, and help photographers get a good idea of what kind of photo they can get from each place.
(SRBs = smoke trail, no SRBs = no smoke trail).
SECTION 2: MORE DETAILS ON EACH LOCATION

WITH TICKETS: LC-39 OBSERVATION GANTRY, SATURN V CENTER, NASA CAUSEWAY &
VISITOR COMPLEX

First, make sure you
sign up for email alerts so you know when tickets are going on sale.

The LC-39 Observation Gantry (
28.595 N, 80.618 W), a viewing tower that is one of the stops on the
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex bus tour, is the newest viewing location now being offered. And
it is the best ever, allowing you to get as close as just 2.3 miles for an Atlas 5 launch or 3.4 miles for a
Falcon 9 launch from pad 40 (and 5.5 for Delta 4). This is the closest viewing of any launch ever offered
to the public. If you get the chance to buy tickets for the LC-39 gantry, GO FOR IT! The three-level
tower offers slight elevation for some, or you may find yourself on the grass in front of it, both with a
clear view across the water to any of the launch pads. This place will not be offered for 39A launches.

The NASA Causeway (
28.509 N, 80.605 W) is an excellent, new viewing option (most famously used
for space shuttle launches in the past). It is just 2.7 to 3.0 miles for a Delta 4 launch, 4.0 for Falcon 9
from pad 40, 5.0 to 5.2 miles for Atlas 5, and 6.5 for Falcon launches from pad 39A. The view is
excellent, too, with nothing but water between you and the launch pad. This is a road that runs across the
Banana River for about three miles and is surrounded by water.

The Saturn V Center (
28.605N, 80.669 W), a stop on the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (VC)
bus tour, offers a great view of Falcon 9 launches from Pad 39A at just 3.9 miles away, a clear 5.4 mile
view of Atlas Pad 41 and a 6.3 mile view of Falcon Pad 40. (At 8.1 miles from Delta 4's Pad 37B, while
clear, there is no real advantage over Port Canaveral unless you want to do a tour on the same day as
launch.) The Saturn V Center is a beautiful museum housing one of the only three Saturn V moon rockets
still left. It was beautifully restored and opened to the public in 1996. This is a sight not to be missed on
any visit to KSC, as with the newly-opened Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Visitor Complex.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (
www.KennedySpaceCenter.com) is the independent
museum and tour operator for the Kennedy Space Center. I highly recommend taking at least the main
bus tour to see, up close, this incredible and historical place. Other tours to see different facilities up
close are also offered, and each includes the main bus tour and Saturn V Center in addition to the Visitor
Complex itself & Space Shuttle Atlantis which is now on display there. The Kennedy Space Center
Visitor Complex (KSC VC) itself (
28.523 N, 80.682 W) offers viewing (again, when open), but with no
truly clear view of the pads themselves. You will only see the rocket once it has launched and cleared the
trees and buildings in front of you. Between the three rockets, Delta 4 is a little better than the others
from here in terms of the view, but only from one area of the complex as noted: The corner of the lawn
behind the new Atlantis museum, which has a view up State Route 405 towards the pad, which is itself
just barely hidden. (Television screens, or at least speakers with countdown audio are normally set up for
launches at the Visitor Complex.) As noted, other areas of the complex will have the view blocked like the
other pads. Distance from the Visitor Complex to Pad 37B is 7.1 miles; to Pad 40 is 6.7 miles; to Pad 41
is 7.2 miles; and to Pad 39A is 7.4 miles.
FREE VIEWING: PORT CANAVERAL

Route 401 (
28.419 N, 80.630 W) is the best spot for viewing at Port Canaveral. Launch viewers park their cars in the grass on the side of the road beginning a few hours before launch time.
The same is done on 528 on the Banana River, where there is more room to spread out and for RVs, though this spot is about another mile further back. Please plan to get to Rt. 401 for a spot
early (90 minutes to two hours before launch is a good plan for most launches). Once viewing spots fill up here, police may direct people to another area back on the 528 causeway. Do not
block traffic in any way when you park along Rt. 401. Keep your cars in the grass, on the water side of the road, and please do not parallel park.

In 2013, a new observation tower, known as
Exploration Tower, opened at the Port with an outdoor viewing deck on top, providing a slightly higher aerial view of the Cape. This tower can
provide a different,
elevated view for a launch, but the view is not very good and I do not recommend it. The view from the top is mostly obstructed for Delta 4 launches (the pad is blocked
by another structure in the Port in all but one small corner of the tower) and
partially so for Atlas 5 launches as well. It offers the best line of sight for Falcon 9 launches as seen in the first
link. However, the tower is normally open only from 10am to 5pm and accommodates just 75 people maximum on the outdoor deck and some more on the inside area behind glass. Viewing is
first-come, first-served, according to officials there. Frequently, however, the tower is rented out for VIP parties and closed to the public.


PLAYALINDA BEACH

The closest and best spot for Atlas 5 launches and now for Falcon 9 launches off pad 39A as well, as well as a decent option for Falcon 9 pad 40 launches, is Playalinda Beach (
28.655 N,
80.630 W), but only when it is open. The beach is open from 6am to 8pm in summer, and 6am to 6pm in winter (the change is normally made the same day as daylight savings time). Closures
for some launches are possible. Playalinda Beach is located to the north of all the launch pads, across the bridge and east down the road leading from north Titusville. Parking at the beach
(
28.655N, 80.632 W) is located 3.6 miles from Falcon 9 pad 39A, 5.8 miles from Atlas 5 Pad 41 and 7.2 miles from Falcon 9 Pad 40. You can then walk down the beach and get as close as a
distance of 2.7 miles (for pad 39A), 4.8 miles (for Atlas 5) and 6.3 miles (for pad 40) to be even closer at the KSC security fence. The beach is occasionally but rarely closed for daytime
launches as well. (NOTE: SO FAR, FOR FALCON 9 LAUNCHES FROM PAD 39A, YOU MAY NOT WALK CLOSER THAN THE FIRST PARKING LOT AT 3.6 MILES).  
(Playalinda Beach is 8.5 to 9.3 miles from Delta 4's Pad 37B, and the view is partially or completely obstructed from here. This is not recommended for Delta 4 launches.) The entrance fee to
Playalinda Beach, part of Cape Canaveral National Seashore and managed by the National Park Service, is $10 per car for a one-time visit (or included with NPS inter-agency passes).


JETTY PARK & BEACHES

Once the one and only beautiful viewing site for Delta 2 and Atlas 2 & 3 launches, Jetty Park (
28.4083 N, 80.5873 W) is no longer a good place to watch any rocket take off from Cape
Canaveral (this will change in 2017 when the Minotaur rocket makes its first flight from the Cape, and again when Blue Origin begins launching from Complex 36). It is equally distant as Port
Canaveral (Route 401) is from any of these three launch vehicles, so the same information/distances apply, but it offers no direct view of any of the current three launch pads, all of which are
hidden behind a low berm. You could happily view the launches from here or on the beach down the seashore as well, and it is still a beautiful place to watch, but the rocket will not become
visible until it has cleared the tower and risen above the launch pad and berm directly across the inlet. If you are a photographer aiming for photos from here, be sure to plot out which way to
look on the horizon using a program such as Google Earth. The park has a $5 entrance fee per car. As you progress farther south along the beach, some launch pads do become a little more
visible on the horizon due to perspective, but then you are getting farther and farther away.


TITUSVILLE

Titusville (
28.620 N, 80.800 W for the Rt. 406 Max Brewer bridge) is the best free, off-site location to watch Falcon 9 launches that take place from Pad 39A. Space View Park (map), just
south of here, is also good. Elsewhere in Titusville, anywhere on the Indian River along US 1 or Rt. 406, can be used to view these or any of the other rocket launches as well, but is
significantly farther than Port Canaveral is for all three other launch pads (minimum 13 miles, maximum 16 miles, to Pad 41, 40 or 37B).
A very tight shot of an Atlas 5 rocket launching near sunset in September 2016, as
seen from the LC-39 tourist viewing tower just 2.3 miles away.
A wide angle photo of a morning Atlas 5 launch (with SRBs and smoke trail) as seen from the
LC-39 tourist viewing area 2.3 miles from Pad 41. Pad 40 is just out of view to the right.
A telephoto shot of a Delta 4 medium version rocket launching at dusk taken from the Port
Canaveral area.
A telephoto view of a daytime Falcon 9 launch from Pad 40 which is nearly identical to the shot you can get from the LC-39 observation gantry.