Yesterday evening NASA managers met for a flight readiness review and officially gave Artemis 1 a ‘GO FOR LAUNCH’. What this means is that the agency cleared the new Space Launch System rocket for blastoff on its first test flight scheduled for Monday August 29th, 2022; this launch will be the first launch in the American-led return to the moon project, then onwards to Mars.
The most powerful rocket ever built rolled out from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launch pad 39B overnight on August 17th. Current guests riding the Explore Bus Tour from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex get see the rocket on the launch pad as they pass it by. It is certainly a sight to behold.
Gray Line Orlando Tours have a long history as the company that provide excellence in tours to Kennedy Space Center, and they have been providing tours to watch launches since the 90s. We know all the best spots to go and visit.
Locations can be divided into ‘on complex’ or ‘off complex’ which is then split to parks, beaches, or roadways.
On Complex – At this time Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex have sold out of all their special tickets for Artemis 1 viewing, and standard tickets are not allowed on complex to view the launch – so we wish to help you with some of the spots that the locals love to visit on launch day that will provide a great view of the launch.
For the Space Shuttle Launches, Gray Line brought guests to the NASA Causeway which is a 6-mile viewing point with a direct line of sight to the launch pads. The NASA causeway is not open for Artemis launch.
For Space X Crew 1, Gray Line brough guests to the Banana Creek Viewing area. This site has unparalleled views just over 3 miles from launch pad 39A. This viewing area is sold out for Artemis launch as are all the viewing areas at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Off Complex – these are our teams two favorite parks, beaches and roadways to view the launch.
Jetty Park – located in Port Canaveral, the park is located south of the launch pads closest to Space Launch Complex 37B. It has tent camping in rustic sites, as well as pitch spots for RVs. Being that you must drive through the port to access this launch spot traffic can be in an extreme bottle neck situation in this area. Furthermore, tickets must be pre-purchased on their website with a card. If we did not have a pre-purchased ticket for launch day, we would not attempt to try and access this park on a launch date.
Launch View Park – hands down this is our favorite park location to view launches. We started offering tours from Orlando to watch the launches in Space View Park way back in the 90s. We would have buses there for every Space Shuttle launch. There is a direct line of sight across the Indian River Lagoon to launch complex of 39 A and B so is ideal for watching launches from these launch pads.
During Hurricane Irma in 2017 sadly the park suffered massive damage, and it languished for many years until it was completely renovated and reopened in July 2021. Repairs, at a cost of $2 million included replacement of observation docks, seawall repair, and replacement of sidewalks, as well as new lighting and landscaping upgrade.
Artemis 1 will be the first launch that Gray Line Orlando tours will return to Space View Park. We will be running tour buses from Orlando, Kissimmee, Disney and International Drive regions to watch the launch at the park. The park also has a walk-through history of manned space exploration, mission logos carved in granite and usually through the speaker system there they provide the commentary from the NASA control room that really helps build the energy keeping guests informed as they wait for the final countdown on launch days. Packages are on sale now.
Cocoa Beach – whilst the beach is around 18 miles south of launch pad 39B, it makes a great viewing location for families that are looking to enjoy a day at the beach. From the beach you cannot quite view the launchpads, but once the rockets have cleared the tower and are heading up you can view them. The great thing about the beach of course is it is the beach! Plenty of space so you can socially distance if you wish, and you can be enjoying the beach and swimming in the ocean whilst the countdown is underway.
Playa Linda – the best beach for viewing launches due to its proximity to the launch pads. However, because the Artemis is a heavy-lift rocket and super powerful, this beach will be closing beginning Sunday 28th until after a successful launch or scrub of the rocket on Monday. If you are looking for a place to watch smaller rockets in the future, we highly recommend this rural beach which is part of Canaveral National Seashore.
SR528 / Beach Line Expressway – As the highway approaches the Port Canaveral area from the road there is a clear view of the rocket launch pads. It is approximately 14 miles to launch pad 39A from that area. There are no charges to watch from this area but please ensure you pull your card fully off the highway onto the side of the road to avoid a ticket. Please be careful standing on the sides of the highway, and the sand banks of the intracoastal waterway. However, if you have maybe forgotten there is a launch and are rushing to view it, or simply find yourself on the highway on a launch day – please do pull over and watch. Make that memory.
Max Brewer Bridge – this bridge is iconic in Titusville. You can park at the base of the bridge and climb to the top of the bridge for the best view. The parking area is small so you may have to be in place a few hours prior, but if you get a great spot on the bridge the view is excellent!
Wherever you end up watching Artemis 1 launch from, even if its your TV or computer screen -be sure to watch it.
You will be seeing history unfold and being written…. And that is truly a bucket list moment!