Spaceflight Insider

Launch Viewing Guide: ULA Delta IV with WGS 7

United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium+ 5,4 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Launch 37 photo credit Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

ULA is currently planning on launching the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite on July 22, 2015. Photo Credit: Mike Deep / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — United Launch Alliance (ULA ) is preparing to launch a Delta IV Medium+ (5,4) rocket with the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-7) satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37 ) in Florida. If everything continues to go according to plan, the Delta IV launch vehicle is poised to lift off at 8:07 p.m. EDT (00:07 GMT) on Wednesday, July 22.

If you are going to be in town and have never witnessed one of these vehicles thunder aloft before? Here’s your chance to watch one of the most powerful rockets currently in service take to the skies above the Sunshine State.


The five-meter fairing is mated to the Delta IV+ Medium 5,4 rocket’s upper stage. Photo Credit: ULA

But where is the best location to watch it from? Which spots provide the best viewing opportunities? Which are horrible? What if you are on a budget? Not all locations are ideal. While one spot might be perfect to view an Atlas V launch, that same spot could be terrible when viewing a Delta IV or a Falcon 9 take to the skies. This is due to the sheer size of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Given that the launch takes place late in the day, your viewing spots are somewhat limited. If you are in town on vacation and with the family (with children), then we recommend that you visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. There’s lots to do: you can check out the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit, meet an astronaut, and then witness a launch.

For those taking a cruise, Port Canaveral is also a favorite viewing spot. In fact, one can stop at almost any point on SR-528 or SR-401 behind the Port to gain a clear view of launch, as well as experience the thrill of hearing the roar of the Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 engine and four Orbital ATK GEM-60 solid rocket boosters powering it aloft. Even at a distance of 4 miles (6.44 kilometers), you can still hear the rocket’s engines throttle loudly as it journeys into the blackness of space.

As noted, this Delta IV launch will have four solid rocket boosters attached. This means it should quickly rise off of the pad and disappear from sight – so have your camera ready. For those of you who are into amateur radio, you can listen to launch commentary by tuning into 146.940 MHz.

HOW TO GET TO THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX: Stay on SR-528 / Beachline toward Titusville. Turn right onto Fl-405-S / Columbia Blvd. Stay on 405 – you will see the huge orange External Tank and twin Solid Rocket Boosters rising into the sky – that’s your destination.

HOW TO GET TO PORT CANAVERAL: Take SR-528 / Beachline toward Titusville. Once you get into the Port Canaveral area, you will take “Exit A North Terminals”. Once you cross the small drawbridge, go around the bend in the road which will take you behind the Port. If you are approaching from the east, you will travel from A1A (which will become SR-528). Be sure to arrive early, as this is a popular viewing spot and gets crowded quickly.

Video courtesy of United Launch Alliance



Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

Why does Delta IV use less powerful solid strap-on side boosters than Atlas V? 2 different rockets & 2 different boosters.

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