Rocket launch near Kennedy Space Center, Florida: About NASA Starliner

Rocket launch near Kennedy Space Center, Florida: About NASA Starliner
Rocket launch near Kennedy Space Center, Florida: About NASA Starliner

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore & Suni Williams will fly aboard a Boeing Starliner spacecraft & ULA Atlas V rocket to International Space Station.

Godspeed, Starliner. Boeing’s maiden crewed flight is coming up.

Boeing is preparing to launch its Starliner capsule on its first crewed mission as soon as 10:34 pm EDT Monday, May 6, from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. And parts of the Southeastern Coast of Florida can get a peek at the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifting off into the sky.

On board the rocket will be two NASA astronauts. Flying this commercial crew mission are Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams, both Navy test pilots. They have each flown in space twice (more info about them below).

Day or night, watching a rocket launch on the beach is so Florida. But can you see a rocket launch liftoff from Cape Canaveral all the way in Daytona Beach to Fort Pierce?

Weather permitting and depending on cloud cover, yes. We have suggestions on where and how to watch a rocket launch from Volusia County to the Space Coast to the Treasure Coast (just keep scrolling) along with information on NASA’s Boeing Starliner rocket launch.

What is Boeing’s Starliner?

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft will transport NASA astronauts. The company calls it the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner, or simply “Starliner.” Set to launch no earlier than May 6, 2024, it will make history as the first spacecraft to ferry humans from Space Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral. The launch pad has been the site for historic missions beginning with the Titan rockets in 1965 and including the New Horizons deep space probe, the Voyager spacecraft, and even the Curiosity Mars rover.

Starliner will be launched with the help of a United Launch Alliance (a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin) Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V rocket has launched from the site since 2002, but this will be the first time it carries astronauts to space.

What launches from where? Years after space shuttle retirement, Florida chases nearly 70 launches a year

Who are the NASA astronauts flying into space for Starliner launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida?

The two NASA astronauts flying this commercial crew mission are Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams. Both are Navy test pilots. They have each flown in space twice and both bring a wide variety of experiences to the flight.

Williams was originally a helicopter test pilot before switching to flying jets. She’s preparing to fly to space for the third time, as the crew test flight pilot.

This will be Wilmore’s third spaceflight as well. Before becoming a NASA astronaut, Wilmore was a US Navy captain, fighter pilot, and test pilot, accumulating more than 8,000 hours of flight time. Wilmore flew the FA-18 Hornet and T-45 Goshawk, playing a role in missions during Operation Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southern Watch.

Here’s what we know about the rocket launch missions, mentioned in FLORIDA TODAY’s rocket launch calendar for the month of May, which is updated frequently. (Check that link often for rocket launch times and dates because they are routinely subject to change for a variety of reasons.)

For questions or comments, email Space Reporter Rick Neale at [email protected] or tweet him @rickneale1 on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter. You also can contact Space Reporter Brooke Edwards at [email protected] or tweet her @brookeofstars on X or Instagram.

Monday, May 6: NASA’s Boeing Starliner crewed flight test

Where can I watch Florida rocket launches online?

If you want to watch live rocket launch coverage, FLORIDA TODAY’s Space Team will provide updates at floridatoday.com/space, starting about 90 minutes before launch time. You can download the free app for iPhone or Android or type floridatoday.com/space into your browser.

Where to watch a rocket launch from Space Coast of Florida, from Titusville and Mims to Cocoa Beach and Melbourne

Pretty much anywhere in Brevard, you’ll get a view of the rocket launch. The best view to watch a rocket launch from the Space Coast is along the beach. However, visibility will depend on weather conditions and people should make sure not to block traffic or rights of way on bridges and to follow posted rules at beaches.

If you are viewing the launch along the Indian River in Titusville from Space View Park or Parrish Park, look east directly across the river. If you are farther south along the Indian River, look northeast.

Playalinda Beach or Canaveral National Seashore is the closest spot to view liftoff because it is almost parallel to Launch Pad 39A. On the beach, look south along the coastline, (you can even see the pad from some spots).

Some hotspots to check out:

  • Jetty Park Beach and Pier, 400 Jetty Park Road, Port Canaveral. Note, there’s a charge to park.
  • Playalinda Beach, 1000 Playalinda Beach Road, Canaveral National Seashore. Note, there’s a charge to park, and access to Canaveral National Seashore isn’t always granted depending on capacity and time of day.
  • Max Brewer Bridge and Parrish Park, 1 A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway, Titusville. Note, parking is available on both sides of Max Brewer Bridge.
  • Space View Park8 Broad St., Titusville
  • Sand Point Park10 E. Max Brewer Causeway, Titusville
  • Rotary Riverfront Park4141 S. Washington Ave., Titusville
  • Alan Shepard Park, 299 E. Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach. Note, there could be parking costs.
  • Cocoa Beach Pier, 401 Meade Ave. Parking fees vary.
  • Lori Wilson Park, 1400 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach. Lori Wilson Park has a dog park, by the way.
  • Sydney Fischer Park, 2200 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach. Note, there could be parking costs.
  • Sebastian Inlet Park9700 S. State Road A1A, Melbourne Beach (there is a cost to enter)
  • Ambersands Beach Park12566 N. SR A1A, Vero Beach (free parking)
  • South Beach Park1700 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach (free parking)
  • Merrill Barber Bridge in Vero Beach
  • Alma Lee Loy Bridge in Vero Beach

In Volusia County, immediately north of Brevard County, you can get a great view of a SpaceX, NASA or United Launch Alliance rocket launch.

The best views to watch a rocket launch from here is along the beach. Look due south. Here are some recommended spots:

South New Smyrna Beach (Canaveral National Seashore), there may be parking costs. New Smyrna Beach features 17 miles of white sandy beaches. An eclectic and quaint beach town, despite its reputation as the “Shark Bite Capital of the World,” New Smyrna Beach has always been a haven for surfers who come for the waves.

Dinner and a launch: Perfect for a SpaceX or NASA rocket launch, best waterfront restaurants in Volusia County

Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park, 6656 S. Atlantic Ave., New Smyrna Beach. Bethune Beach, which is 3.5 miles south of New Smyrna Beach and one mile north of the Apollo Beach entrance to Canaveral National Seashore Park, has restrooms, picnic pavilions, showers and nearly 800 feet of beachfront sidewalk, according to Volusia County’s site. The nearby riverside park area is across South Atlantic Avenue with tennis courts, pickle ball courts, basketball and volleyball courts, playground, fishing pier and restrooms. The river by the park can be a great viewing spot for manatees, dolphins and pelicans.

Apollo Beach at Canaveral National Seashore (south of New Smyrna Beach). Canaveral National Seashore runs along Florida’s East Coast in Volusia County and Brevard County. To access Apollo Beach, take Interstate 95 to exit 249, then travel east until it turns into State Road A1A. Follow SR A1A south to the park entrance.

Oak Hill riverfront is the southernmost city in South Volusia County.

Sunrise Park275 River Road, Oak Hill

Goodrich’s Seafood and Oyster House back deck, 253 River Road, Oak Hill

Seminole Rest national historic site211 River Road, Oak Hill

Riverbreeze Park250 HH Burch Road, Oak Hill

Mary Dewees Park, 178 N. Gaines St., Oak Hill. Facilities include a rental building, playground, baseball field, basketball courts, tennis courts, outdoor restaurants, pavilions, picnic areas and grills.

Nancy Cummings, 232 Cummings St., Oak Hill. Facilities include a playground, baseball field, basketball courts, outdoor pavilion and restrooms.

Jimmie Vann Sunrise Park, 275 River Road, Oak Hill. This location has about 350 feet of beautifully restored shoreline, according to the city of Oak Hill online. Facilities include a pavilion, picnic tables and kayak launching facilities.

AC Delbert Dewees Municipal Pier, 243 River Road, Oak Hill. Facilities include a520-foot observation pier with two covered decks and seating, the city of Oak Hill site states.

Bird Observation Pier on River Road across from AC Delbert Municipal Pier (see above). Facilities include a 100-foot observation pier.

Where can I see a Florida rocket launch in Indian River County, St. Lucie County and Martin County?

The best views to watch a rocket launch here is along the beach. Visibility in Indian River County, St. Lucie County and Martin County, part of the Treasure Coast, will depend on weather conditions, and people should make sure not to block traffic or rights of way on bridges and to follow posted rules at beaches. Look due north.

• Pretty much anywhere in Brevard, you’ll get a view of the rocket launch. That includes Melbourne Beachwhich borders Indian River County, or from Grant-Valkaria along the Indian River Lagoon.

Sebastian Inlet Park9700 S. State Road A1A, Melbourne Beach (there is a cost to enter)

Wabasso Beach Park1808 Wabasso Beach Road, Wabasso

Ambersands Beach Park12566 N. SR A1A, Vero Beach (free parking)

South Beach Park1700 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach (free parking)

Merrill Barber Bridge in Vero Beach

Alma Lee Loy Bridge in Vero Beach

Fort Pierce Inlet905 Shorewinds Drive

Blind Creek Beachside North and South, South Ocean Drive or SR A1A on Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce

Blue Heron Beach2101 Blue Heron Blvd., Fort Pierce

Frederick Douglass Memorial Park3600 S. Ocean Drive, Fort Pierce

Dollman Park Beachside9200 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach

Herman’s Bay Beach7880 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach

John Brooks Park Beachside3300 S Ocean Drive, Fort Pierce

Middle Cove Beach4600 South Ocean Drive, Fort Pierce

Normandy Beach in Jensen Beach

Pepper Park Beachside3302 N. SR A1A, Fort Pierce

Walton Rocks Beachwhich has a dog park, 6700 South Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach

Waveland Beach10350 S. Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach

House of Refuge and beach301 SE MacArthur Blvd., Stuart

State Road A1A causeway in Stuart

Rick Neale is a Space Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY (for more of his stories, click here.) Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or [email protected]. Twitter/X: @RickNeale1

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