July 21, 2024


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Tips and tricks for drivers in Cape Canaveral

Tips and tricks for drivers in Cape Canaveral

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For generations, Space Coast roads have been crowded with parked vehicles when hundreds of thousands of spectators flock to watch high-profile launches — as when as many as 250,000 out-of-county visitors were predicted for NASA’s historic SpaceX Crew-1 astronaut mission in November 2020.

But overall, the crush of motorists has diminished. Brevard County hosted a record-breaking 72 orbital launches last year. This unprecedented pace has accelerated, with 90 or more vehicles likely to be launched by the end of the year.

“Launches have become very frequent. You don’t have that mad rush anymore. Because everyone says, ‘Oh, there’s another one in a couple of days.'” This has diminished,” said Therin Brotz, chief operating officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The initial 40% to 55% (attendance) increase is a bit much.”

“Obviously now, when New Glenn or Starship launches from here, it’s going to be an absolute crazy house. And of course, the Artemis crew (mission) next year,” Protz said.

Regardless of the Cape’s frequent launch schedule, Prutz said a “huge” crowd descended on the KSC Visitor Complex for the March 28 initial liftoff attempt of United Launch Alliance’s latest triple-core Delta IV Heavy rocket. SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches have also attracted crowds of spectators recently.

Cape Canaveral: Is there a launch today? Upcoming rocket launch schedule for SpaceX, ULA and NASA in Florida

Elsewhere, Brevard’s abundant beachfront and riverside coastlines provide tremendous viewing opportunities across dozens of miles — “You don’t have to be in the space center,” said Don Walker, Brevard County’s director of communications.

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But that still means traffic jams and overcrowded parking spaces can cause headaches from Titusville to Cocoa Beach south to the Pineda Bridge.

What to know before driving to see a rocket launch

Walker recommends it to motorists Monitor Brevard Emergency Management social media pageswhich is updated with hours of traffic information before launch.

Brevard emergency officials are working closely with the Florida Department of Transportation to alert motorists in the event of accidents or road closures, Walker said. For example, FDOT will sometimes create one-way lanes on streets to control traffic before and after major launches.

Tip: Be patient when driving to the launch site

“Patience,” Walker answered when asked what motorists should bring. He urged people to arrive and find a viewing spot early.

For viewers ambitious enough to venture near KSC or Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Walker advises them to pack water and lunch, as they could be stuck in traffic for hours.

“A good rule of thumb is the closer we get to the launch window, the more traffic there will be and the fewer places there will be open to watch the launch. So please plan accordingly,” Brevard County Public Information Officer Rachel Hurst said.

“If you’re behind the wheel, beware of your fellow space enthusiasts,” Horst said.

Launch Brevard Hotspots Show

  • Jetty Park Beach and Pier, 400 Jetty Park Road, Port Canaveral. Parking fees are collected.
  • Playalinda Beach, 1000 Playalinda Beach Road, Canaveral National Seashore. Note that there is a parking fee, and access to Canaveral National Seashore is not always granted depending on capacity and time of day.
  • Max Breuer Bridge and Parrish Park, 1a. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway, Titusville. Note that parking is available on both sides of the Max Brewer Bridge.
  • Space View Park, 8 Broad Street, Titusville
  • Sand Point Park, 10 E. Max Brewer Causeway, Titusville
  • Rotary Riverfront Park, 4141 S. Washington St., Titusville
  • Alan Shepherd Park, 299 E. Cocoa Beach Bridge, Cocoa Beach. Note, there may be parking costs.
  • Cocoa Beach Pier, 401 Meade Ave. Parking fees vary.
  • Lori Wilson Park, 1400 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach. By the way, Lori Wilson Park has a dog park.
  • Sidney Fisher Park, 2200 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach. Note, there may be parking costs.
  • Sebastian Inlet Park, 9700 S. State Road A1A, Melbourne Beach (admission costs)
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The Space Coast Tourism Office also maintains a rocket launch page Features a searchable map of key viewing locations. This page often includes parking and traffic information, Horst said.

High traffic areas to avoid if I don’t watch the launch

“In general, the closer you are to Kennedy Space Center, the more likely you are to encounter a certain amount of launch traffic,” Horst said.

It warned of crowding in high-traffic areas such as the Max Breuer Bridge, the NASA Bridge and the State Route 528 Bridge.

Traffic in those areas generally begins to slow down about an hour after the launch, Horst said. Elsewhere, South Brevard and Central Brevard are unlikely to see such traffic increases.

Artemis I in 2022: “Bigger crowds!” Heavy traffic and huge crowds as NASA prepares for the Artemis 1 launch.

For the latest news from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, visit floridatoday.com/space.

Brooke Edwards is a satellite correspondent for Florida Today. Contact her at [email protected] or X: @brookeofstars

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