There are hundreds of public viewing areas to capture the launch and landing from Launch Complex 39-A and Space Launch Complex 40. Day or Night, please not that Playalinda is closed for most night launches. Check their website for up-to-the-minute updates. Night launches are spectacular to watch and offer photographers exciting exposure options.
The following maps from Google Earth Pro, edited by the author, with lines of sight and distance callouts added.
1. Port Canaveral – HWY 401 from SR 528 (Beachline) at Cruise Terminal 5/6. Roadside parking is now closed. Check for availability and access to the bleacher section just prior to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Guard Entrance. This is the closest direct-line view to Launch Complex 40. This one is the closest and offers a view of the T-0 ignition. Approximately 8.5 miles from the pad. All other locations on this map are from within KSC and CCAFS. Recommended time for arrival T-60 minutes.
2. SR 528 (Beachline) On the westbound side just after the exit for Hwy 401 is a great location. Plenty of parking and a veteran broadcaster sets up his RV and broadcasts the launch. Memorabilia and lots of discussion and experience out there. Going eastbound on SR 528 exit at George King Blvd (Cruise Terminal B) make a U-Turn to head back westbound. Pull off on the northside of SR 528 1.5 to 2.0 miles from your U-Turn. Recommended time for arrival T-60 minutes.
3. Several areas along US 1 in Titusville, including Kennedy Point Park, Space View Park and under Max Brewer Memorial Causeway (next to Crackerjacks Seafood and Tiki Bar). Recommended time for arrival T-60 minutes.
4. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge at Playalinda Beach. Park at Lot1 and walk south approximately 1 mile to the border fence of CCAFS/KSC. There is a charge to enter the park, typical hours are sunrise to sunset. They have remained open longer for launches. This spot, although not marked for Launch Complex 40, is 6.32 miles from pad 40. Recommended time for arrival minimum T-90 minutes.
5. Old Florida Grill and Oyster House – US1 in Sharps. Deck and pier overlooking the Indian River. Recommended time for arrival T-30 minutes.
6. You can purchase a launch viewing ticket in addition to your regular ticket at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. You will be bused out to a very nice viewing location.
7. KARS Park located at the east end of Hall Road off N. Courtenay Pkwy (SR-3). A very close viewing area for launch and landing perspectives. Open to the public upon availability. The best location at the park is out on the pier. Recommended time for arrival T-60 minutes.
Please note: Recommended time for arrival can change for more spectacular launches/landings.
The roar of the Falcon 9 and Heavy can be heard from miles away….front row seats are just better. Claim yours!
Space Booster Return to Landing Zones 1 & 2.
Excellent viewing along the beach from Jetty Park Pier to the Cocoa Beach Pier. There is a charge to enter Jetty Park, parking is free at beach accesses in Cape Canaveral, and there is a parking fee in Cocoa Beach and to enter the Cocoa Beach Pier. Recommended time for arrival T-60 minutes.
The Falcon 9 single-core booster can land at Landing Zone 1 or 2 or attempt a sea landing aboard ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ autonomous drone ship. The Falcon Heavy’s 2 outer boosters will both attempt landings at Landing Zone 1 & 2 and the center booster will attempt a landing on the drone ship (depending on mission type). One exciting new addition to the Rocket Riviera is Ms. Tree (pic below), a ‘cesta’ style ship that may attempt to capture a payload fairing at high speed.
The new Port Canaveral mobile harbor crane will lift returning boosters from the drone-ship to dry dock for processing and transport to a SpaceX facility at the port or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.