How to Watch the First Ever All-Civilian Crew Launch Into Orbit


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If you see a flaming fireball streaking through the night sky on Wednesday, it’s not the Space Brotherhood invading Earth to steal our precious zinc. It’s the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, transporting the first-ever all-civilian crew into earth orbit. Here’s how you can watch the historic blast-off.

What is Inspiration4?

Inspiration4 is the first orbital space mission with only civilians aboard. Should everything go according to plan, citizen-astronauts Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski will orbit Earth for three days before splashing down off Florida. Funded and headed by billionaire Isaacman, the mission will raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, conduct experiments on human health, transport hops to later be made into “space beer,” and give all four space-travelers a story to tell at cocktail parties for the rest of their lives.

Where and when does the SpaceX Rocket Launch?

Weather permitting, the Inspiration4 mission is scheduled to blast off on Wednesday, Sept. 15 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The five-hour launch window begins at 8:02 pm ET, so pack some snacks—you could be waiting around for a while.

Best places to watch SpaceX rocket launches

You can see Kennedy Space Center rockets from up to 700km away if the weather is clear, so anyone looking into the sky from Tampa to Miami should be able to check out Inspiration4’s flight, but some locations offer better views than others. The best are along Florida’s “Rocket Coast,” ground zero for space tourism since the 1950s, where you can enjoy everything from a free show along coastal roads to civilized rocket-peeping from bougie restaurant observation decks.

  • Playlinda Beach: Known as “Rocket Launch Beach,” this white-sand beach within The Canaveral National Park offers scenic beauty and one of the closest public views of space-launches from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A, where Inspiration4 is scheduled to launch. You will need to pay National Park entrance and parking fees, though.
  • State Road 401: The launch should be visible all along State Road 401, but there are bleachers set up here, an optimal space-launch-vantage point. Seats are first-come-first-served, so beat the other rocket freaks and arrive early.
  • Kennedy Space Center: If you want to get really close to the space launch and you don’t mind dropping some dough, the Kennedy Space Center’s “Feel the Heat” package might be right for you. For 250 bucks, you can get as-close-as-possible to the take-off, enjoy real-time launch commentary from a “space expert,” and a two-day pass to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Caveat: If the mission is delayed for any reason, your fee will not be refunded.
  • Shiloh’s Steak and Seafood: Visit this Titusville restaurant and enjoy a fat rib-eye while watching the launch from the back patio and musing about how much better your steak tastes than whatever dehydrated ice cream or Tang those dumb astronauts are eating.
  • YouTube: If you can’t make it to Florida, or if you’re in Florida but are literally too lazy to crane your neck upwards to look at the sky, you can watch a livestream of the Inspiration4 launch on SpaceX’s YouTube channel.