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Best Place for a 'Blast'


If you happen to be in the Orlando area now, and are a space fan, you may be in luck. You are in time for a space launch. You can view it for free, but it might be even better if you are willing to pay for it ($20-49).

NASA officials have named what they call the best areas for a “thrilling viewing experience” Monday for the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. The two areas:

---Viewers at the LC-39 Observation Gantry will get a “premium, up-close view of the rocket and launch during lift off.” It’s located just 3.4 miles from the center. You will feel the force of the launch and hear the roar of the engines. There is lawn and bleacher seating. The cost includes a light snack and souvenir T-shirt. Tickets are $49. Call 855-475-8415. Bus boarding begins at 4:30 p.m. for the launch scheduled for 6:14 p.m.

---The Apollo/Saturn V Center is located within Kennedy Space Center and is approximately six miles from Space Launch Complex 40. The viewing area features an open lawn and bleacher section overlooking the Banana River. The area includes live launch commentary, food and retail, and indoor restroom facilities. Launch tickets for here are $20 in addition to admission. Tickets may be purchased online at KennedySpaceCenter.com or by calling 866-870-6239. Buses from the Visitor Complex will begin taking guests with Launch Transportation Tickets to the Apollo/Saturn V Center at 3:30 p.m.

Other free areas for viewing this launch or others:

---The Cape Canaveral Air Force Station located adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center is the current home for all rocket launches in Florida.

---Other best places to see launches at any time include four of Brevard County’s parks (brevardpaks.com). They all have what NASA terms “optimal” viewing locations. All offer free public parking and restrooms, as well as playgrounds and picnic tables.

---Cocoa Beach parks (cityofcocoabeach.com) are also good places. There are public restrooms and picnic facilities but a fee is required to park.

---Titusville Parks (titusville.com) has two of NASA’s recommended rocket launch viewing locations. Space View Park and William J. Manzo Park. Both have public parking and restrooms.

---Patrick Air Force Base's website notes that State Road 528 provides a clear view of the rocket launch pads, as the road approaches the Port Canaveral area, as does State Road A1A in Cocoa Beach and U.S. Highway 1 in Titusville between State Roads 405 and 402. Drivers choosing to watch a rocket launch from the roadside should use caution when pulling off the road and should select a viewing location that does not impede the flow of traffic.

---Other locations include Jetty Park (portcanaveral.com) in Port Canaveral. It has public restrooms, picnic tables, a refreshment center and a campground and is one of NASA's recommended viewing locations. The park charges a parking or camping fee for all vehicles. Area boaters are able to watch launches from the Intracoastal Waterway and non-restricted portions of the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon.

Monday’s launch involves the Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 carrying the TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSat. SpaceX is launching this satellite for Thales Alenia Space. The TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSat will provide the first national satellite telecommunications systems in Turkmenistan and includes coverage zones across Europe, Central Asia and Africa.

This latest launch was postponed from last week. ###