As the commercial space race heats up, you want to be near the action. For those of us who cannot work for companies such as SpaceX, that means finding great viewing locations for the launches. However, SpaceX has two launch sites. So, your best place to watch will depend on which site they are using for a particular launch.
By reading further, you will learn where to find these great viewing platforms.
The Best Places to Watch SpaceX Launch Its Rockets
The best place to watch a rocket launch is right in the cockpit of a manned launch, but only a tiny handful of us will get that experience. The rest of us must be content with seeing SpaceX launches from the relative safety beyond the two-mile exclusion zone around the launch site.
However, where that is will depend on where the launch site is. SpaceX uses two different launch facilities for its rockets. The first is their home SpaceX Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, a small town on the Gulf of Mexico to the east of Brownsville. Their alternative launch site is NASA’s facilities on the Space Coast near Cocoa Beach, Florida.
SpaceX Launch Viewing Platforms in Boca Chica, Texas
The main SpaceX Starbase launch site in Boca Chica, Texas is a private facility with no public tours or access. As such, the best places to view launches in the area all stand approximately 4.7 miles (7.5 kilometers) from the launch platform.
Luckily, there are a few locations around the area with an excellent view towards the launch pad. Some of these locations are free and open to the public, and others require reservations. Some of these places even have strict safety restrictions in place for residents and visitors alike.
South Padre Island (SPI)
SPI’s southern tip is the best and closest place to watch a SpaceX launch. The island sits around 7.5 kilometers north of the launch pad, with enough room to accommodate your entire viewing party. The location itself is also free and open to the public with no restrictions. There is an entrance fee, though, for the island as a whole.
Isla Blanca Beach Vantage Point
Isla Blanca is slightly closer, and the views of the launch facility are no less breathtaking. However, it is a residential area and not a public park. If you want to take advantage of the location, you must know a local and then ask them to use their property.
Please note that only SpaceX employees and residents are officially allowed in the village during a launch. Visitors must register their spot in advance to get past the checkpoints.
Side of The Road
If all else fails, you can pull off the shoulder of a road near town to watch launches. The accommodations are terrible, and the police may ask you to leave, but it is there if you need it. Just be aware that you could be waiting a long time for the launch, especially if it gets postponed.
SpaceX Launch Viewing Locations on the Space Coast in Florida
While not nearly as active as their Texas site, SpaceX does a few launches throughout the year near NASA’s 39A platform at Cape Canaveral. If you can get to Florida for one of them, you should find many great places to watch the rockets go.
Because the Space Coast gets crowded during the launch events, you will want to get to your viewing location as early in the day as possible.
- Jetty Park Beach and Pier, Port Canaveral – Perfect location for most launches. Entry fees: $15 for cars, $20 for RVs, $25 for buses
- Playalinda Beach, Canaveral National Seashore – Great for viewing Atlas V and Falcon 9 launches from pad 40. Entry fee: $10
- Max Brewer Bridge and Parrish Park, Titusville – Great for viewing launches from Pad 39A. The facility is also free but only has space for about 146 vehicles.
- Space View Park, Titusville – Great for viewing launches from Pad 39A. Free and always open
- Sand Point Park, Titusville – Great for most launces but only open during the day
- Rotary Riverfront Park, Titusville – Nice place to watch more launches, but is also restricted to daytime launches
A SpaceX launch is a sight to behold, but you must make it to one of their launch facilities to see them. Thanks to strict safety restrictions, you cannot watch the launches on-site. However, you should be able to find a few great viewing platforms nearby, whether the launch takes place in Texas or Florida.