Out at the Space Coast, rockets are lifting off at a pace never seen before in Cape Canaveral's nearly sixty-year history, thus creating an abundance of one's ability to be in awe watching these complex machines venture out beyond the comforts of Earth.
The increased rate from both Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Space Force Base is genuinely pushing the boundaries of human exploration, innovation, and technological capability. While replenishing the International Space Station (ISS) with Crew, supplies, and science experiments has been one of the most significant priorities for launch providers, these only occur as much as the ISS allows for and needs.
The Cape's increased rate has been primarily due to SpaceX's Starlink Satellites, in which often fifty-three satellites are lofted into a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) upon a Falcon 9 Rocket.
The Starlink program, planned to be a mega-constellation, has been on a blistering pace of launching nearly every seven days - completely unheard of for the aerospace industry.
Despite seeing the current cadence significantly increase, the Space Coast is eagerly awaiting to welcome new launch vehicles to the world's busiest spaceport.
Over the upcoming two years, Floridians can expect to see NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) Moon Rocket, United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur, Blue Origin's New Glenn, and SpaceX's Starship launch vehicles standing in glory at their respective launch pads. Needless to say, the Cape is only beginning to heat up, and we are living in a new golden era of spaceflight!
With launches lifting off so frequently, there is an abundance of locations to feel the rumble (or sonic boom) and intense light of engines pierce the sky!
For launches, some of my favorite spots include:
This park is situated on both sides of SR-402 at the Max Brewer Bridge. Located only ten miles away from the closest launch pad, Parrish Park provides an unobstructed view across Banana Creek Bay to watch rockets towards the heavens. Parrish Park is an exceptionally great place to watch night launches as the night appears to turn into day due to the engine's powerful light reflecting across the water!
The Cove at Port Canaveral:
The Cove at Port Canaveral offers an abundance of areas to watch a launch. While this location is further away from the launch pads themselves, what makes Port Canaveral unique is the potential for a booster return. Should a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket have a Return-to-Launch-Site (RTLS) maneuver to either of their Landing Zones, Port Canaveral is the closest distance the general public can get to the landing zones. In this case, be on the lookout for the boosters making their descent towards the pad and feel the sonic booms thud against your chest! Port Canaveral also makes a fantastic destination to watch Stage 1 of a Falcon 9 Booster float into port on one of SpaceX's drone ships.
Located in the Canaveral National Seashore, Playalinda Beach offers some of the closest locations to watch a rocket liftoff; it is especially incredible for launches coming from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 39A, as onlookers can be within four miles of the pad! With most flight trajectories flying to the northeast, Playalinda Beach will offer some of the best launch views up until Main Engine Cutoff (MECO). Note that Playalinda Beach has an entry fee and is only open during certain hours.
I encourage you to embrace your sense of adventure, lift your gaze towards the heavens, and watch as humanity continues to push the envelope on what is possible in our pursuit of understanding the cosmos and home planet.