About the Launch
- Launch is scheduled within a 20-day launch period that runs from Nov. 18 through Dec. 7 (with a possible extension for up to two weeks after that). We plan to launch on Nov. 18 but, as you know, weather or technical issues can cause delays. We suggest you plan to be in Cape Canaveral on Nov. 18 (which means flying in on the 17th or earlier), and to stay for as long as you can to give the greatest chance of seeing the launch. Based on the last year of Atlas V launches, there’s around a 50 % chance of going off in the first two days, 75 % in the first 3-4 days, etc., with extremely high probability of it going off within the first week. There are lots of touristy things to do in the area if there’s a launch delay.
- Nov. 18 is a Monday. Thanksgiving this year is Thursday, Nov. 28 (the following week). The launch window on that first day runs from about 1:30-3:30 p.m. EST. If the launch slips, the window moves about ten minutes earlier each successive day.
- If you attend, each person in your group will need to check in in person in order to receive passes for the bus to the launch viewing site. This typically can be done on L-1 (launch day minus one day) or L-2; the formal invitation from NASA will provide details. At check in, you can sign up for a mission briefing to be held on L-1, and will have opportunities to take tours of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (where the launch pads are). If you want to do these activities on L-1, you should be there to check in on L-2. Be sure to plan your travel to ensure you are there to check in; this cannot be done by anybody for you! This means you would need to arrive on L-2 in order to check in and be available for events on L-1; check-in occurs during regular business hours, so plan accordingly.
- We recommend that you get lodging in Cocoa Beach or nearby. There are a lot of hotels, motels, and condos in that area, and lodging should not be an issue. You almost certainly will need a rental car. Cocoa Beach is about an hour’s drive from the Orlando airport.
- NASA does not pay for any travel connected to the launch, other than providing bus transportation to the launch viewing site.