Spaceflight Insider

Launch Viewing Guide: ULA Atlas V 401 with GPS IIF 10

United Launch Alliance sent the 8th Block IIF GPS satellite today, Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 1:22 p.m. EDT (1722 GMT). Photo Credit: Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

United Launch Alliance has launched each of the Block IIF GPS satellites to date. Photo Credit: Mike Deep SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — United Launch Alliance (ULA ) is getting ready to send the U.S. Air Force’s tenth GPS IIF satellite atop one of the company’s Atlas V 401 rockets. The navigational satellite will have some 19 minutes to get off of the launch pad and into the skies, with weather conditions providing an estimated 70 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch. This launch occurs at a time when the U.S. Air Force Station is at a heightened period of alert – which might cause some difficulties in terms of watching the launch.

As mentioned, the Atlas V booster will fly in what is known as the 401 configuration (that’s rocket scientist speak for a four meter fairing, no solid rocket motors and a single, RL-10 rocket engine in the booster’s Centaur upper stage) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) in Florida.

Liftoff is currently set to take place on Wednesday, July 15, at 11:36 a.m. EDT (15:36 GMT). But where do you go to watch it from? Which spots provide the best viewing opportunities? Which ones are horrible? What if you’re on a budget? Not all locations are ideal. While one spot might be perfect to view a Delta IV lift off, that same spot could be terrible when watching an Atlas V take to the skies. This situation is due to the sheer geographical size of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Here is SpaceFlight Insider’s viewing guide for where to best view the launch from:

AtlasV GPS IIF10 Mission Art

Image Credit: United Launch Alliance

While it might seem counter-intuitive, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex proper is, actually, not the best spot from which to view the launch. From the Visitor Complex itself, the view is restricted with the many landmarks located there – making a clear view difficult at best. There are special tours, however, such as to the Saturn V Center, which do provide excellent viewing – but it may cost extra.

However, if you want to gain the full space “experience”, you can’t go wrong by going to the “VC”. You get to wander among the spacecraft and launch vehicles of days gone by, visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis in her new $100 million exhibit and even meet an astronaut. Finally – to top it all off – you get to see a rocket launch!

To find out more, click here: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex or call: 877.572.6401

Want to hear the iconic countdown procedure for yourself? No problem! Tune into 146.940 MHz and imagine you’re in launch control.

Port Canaveral: This is one of the better viewing locations to watch the Atlas V rocket carry the GPS IIF 10 satellite aloft from. Even better? It is free! It is incredibly easy to find, as well as filled with plenty of spots to park (so long as you arrive early). All you need to do is park along SR-528 in the Port/Cape Canaveral area. One needs only to look for the cars parked along the side of the road.

Okay, you’ve figured out where you want to watch the launch from – how do you get there?

Directions to Port Canaveral: Take SR-528, “The Beachline” toward Titusville. After you reach the Port Canaveral area, take “Exit A North Terminals”. Once you’ve done that you will cross over a small drawbridge, go around the curve in the road – this will take you right behind the port. If you are coming from the opposite direction (the east) you will travel from A1A (this will eventually become SR-528). Click here for directions to the Port Canaveral area: Port Canaveral

Now what? Simple. Take loads of pictures and video and revel in the experience of a lifetime!

Threat condition Bravo under the U.S. Force Protection Condition (FPCON ) has been initiated and will impact all military bases – including Cape Canaveral.

The elevation in this status was implemented due to threats issued by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an Islamist terrorist organization more commonly known as “ISIS”, against U.S. military institutions.

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SpaceFlight Insider is a space journal working to break the pattern of bias prevalent among other media outlets. Working off a budget acquired through sponsors and advertisers, SpaceFlight Insider has rapidly become one of the premier space news outlets currently in operation. SFI works almost exclusively with the assistance of volunteers.

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