Staying updated on launch day
Launch day has finally come and after waiting a few hours at your chosen viewing area, you start seeing groups of people heading back to their cars. The rocket hasn’t launched yet. Has there been a delay? This is a common scenario, especially for those who aren’t sure how to stay updated on launch day. How do the people heading back to their cars know the launch has been scrubbed? In this section we’ll highlight some of the ways we stay updated on launch day and how you can stay informed even when there isn’t a network connection.
Twitter has been around for years. Some love it, some hate it. No matter how you feel about it, there’s no denying that Twitter is one of the best ways to get live updates on launch day. In fact, the majority of resources we link in our Key Launch Information pages are Twitter accounts. Even if you don’t use Twitter, we recommend downloading the application and setting up an account to stay updated on launches and other spaceflight events. Here are some of the accounts we recommend you follow for launch day:
Depending on how the network connection is where you’re viewing from, you can watch the launch livestream to get updates straight from NASA and/or the launch provider. Livestreams typically start 15 - 30 minutes before liftoff and can be found on the launch provider’s website, YouTube, and sometimes other streaming services such as Facebook Live and Twitch. Depending on the mission, NASA TV will sometimes offer full launch coverage. It’s important to note that there will be a bit of latency, which usually ranges from 5 - 45 seconds. Because of this, we don’t recommend using the livestream as a launch countdown. By the time engine ignition occurs on the livestream, the rocket would’ve likely already cleared the tower in real time. Here’s where you can find some livestreams:
Other web resources:
Aside from Twitter and livestreams, there are also other web resources you can use to get live launch updates. While they may not be as convenient as Twitter, here are some great web resources that you can use to stay informed:
What if there’s no connection?:
If you’re at a launch site where there isn’t a network connection, like we typically are, there are still a few ways you can get launch updates.
Some locations, such as the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, may not have the best network connection but offer live updates via livestreams or mission control broadcasts. If you’re at one of these convenient locations, you can sit back and relax while you wait for liftoff.
Most locations will have some form of law enforcement on standby. If you’re at a national park, like Playalinda Beach, there will be park rangers and other volunteers on site. These officials are usually updated on the status of the launch. They might not be able to provide detailed updates, but they’ll at least be able to tell you if the launch has been delayed or not. We recommend confirming with another official, other launch-goers, or by finding an area with connection to check the resources we’ve linked above before heading back to your car since the official you originally asked, or their information line, may have misunderstood something and unknowingly provided incorrect information. It’s not a common occurrence, but we have heard of it happening — especially with private security and volunteers.
If you’re in a remote location where there aren’t any officials around, the best you can do is ask other launch-goers and look around for a spot at the location where you can get a quick connection. We have been unable to find an AM/FM station that provides live updates, but we’ll update this guide if we do. Sometimes you may need to wait until the end of the window before finding out if the launch has been delayed or not. Luckily, there aren’t many places like this in the area so this shouldn’t be an issue.
Don’t be afraid to ask!:
Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow launch-goers! People are very friendly at launches. If you see someone who looks like a seasoned local, just ask and they’ll likely be happy to point you in the right direction. No one magically becomes an expert, we all get to where we are by asking questions and gaining experience.