Attending a rocket launch is a very fun experience, which is a bucket list event for some. Companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin have refined the experience and made launches a PR opportunity! This has peaked interest from the public in watching these events, whether it be in person or online.
These companies will provide opportunities to watch rocket launches on their own website. There are many ways to track launch schedules, which vary from aggregators of all launches at a location to individual companies, which would provide their own launch schedules.
For those looking to attend these launches in person, there are several options including Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base. When attending a launch, make sure to leave several days of buffer just in case the launch gets delayed and the date gets moved. This can happen when there are weather issues or something else happens.
Vandenberg AirForce Base Launches
Watching a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base isn’t an option, but there are tours available of the base. Make sure to schedule your tour in advance, as they fill up quickly and require advance reservations. Please note, that the tour dates isn’t likely to line up exactly with the launch dates. The type of payloads launched from Vandenberg is top secret or government related; therefore, only government personnel are allowed on site.
Located north of Los Angeles, Vandenberg Air Force Base can be reached via flight, long drive, or Amtrak. From the Pacific Northwest, it looks like there are a limited number of trains, with only 1 option going from Seattle/Portland to Los Angeles. This journey can take more than 30 hours and can cost around $200 or more, plus to get to Vandenberg. Travel by plane would be a 2.5 hour flight each way. If one takes a train or a plane, then one has to rent a car to get to a suitable spot to watch the launch. Travel by car would be a 13-16 hour journey of about 800-1000 miles depending on the starting location. The advantage of driving would not be having to rent a car.
Being 3 hours North of Los Angeles, one can spend the day in LA before traveling to the Vandenberg area for the launch. When viewing the launch, the best spots there are several great sites that have complied the data. https://www.spacelaunchschedule.com/vandenberg-rocket-launch-viewing/
Cape Canaveral Launches
At the Kennedy Space Center, there is a large complex of space related events. There is much to do, plus being close enough to Orlando, the areas attractions are available too if one spends time Orlando before coming into the complex.
Getting to Cape Canaveral can be a challenge since driving and train options are available, but not feasible. Due to the time taken, air travel using planes are the only viable option. When flying into the Cape Canaveral area, the ideal airport is either Orlando International Airport or Melbourne International Airport. Melbourne International is 47 miles away, but isn’t a major airport, as there are limited flight options. Traveling from Orlando International Airport (MCO) is a 46 mile and 45 minute drive from Cape Kennedy. Once there, rent a car to visit the area.
There are several sites at “Kennedy Space Center and adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station” per Kennedy Space Center. To access these sites, one has to purchase a ticket, which are said to sell out quickly, so make sure to buy them early.
A schedule of Cape Canaveral rocket launch schedule can be found at their website.