CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 421 configuration rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NROL-61) satellite from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is scheduled to launch on Thursday, July 28, 2016. The launch window opens at 8:37 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Few details have been released about the mission other than that it is "in support of national defense." NROL-61 will mark ULA’s sixth launch of 2016 and the 109th since the company was founded in 2006. It also will be the sixth Atlas V to launch in the 421 configuration.
LAUNCH WEATHER FORECAST
The most recent forecast issued by the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts an 80% chance of overall permissible weather conditions for launch. The primary weather concern for launch is cumulus clouds.
Where To Watch The Cape Canaveral Rocket Launch?
A. As the top image shows, the best place to watch the launch is from the Canaveral National Seashore just north of Kennedy Space Center. Admission is $5 per car. The park opens at 6 a.m. Visit the U.S. National Park Service website for directions and more information. Photo credit: ULA
B. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has aunch viewing opportunities for NROL-61 are available at the LC-39 Observation Gantry, Apollo/Saturn V Center and the main visitor complex with bleacher seating and launch commentary. Launch viewing transportation will begin at 5:15 am for Apollo/Saturn V Center and at 6:15 am for LC-39 Observation Gantry. The visitor complex will open at 8 am for all other visitors. Visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex website for directions and more information.
Free Areas To Watch The Rocket Launch (in order of best viewing):
1. Titusville, Florida southward along the Indian River on the east side of US Highway 1.
2. Between Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral along the north side of State Road 528.
3. Port Canaveral, with best viewing and paid parking available at Jetty Park.
4. Along the beaches of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, Florida (there is metered parking in Cocoa Beach that only accepts quarters, so bring some change).
Map of Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: Google. Rocket launch viewing locations added by Brevard Times.