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Viewing NASA Rocket Launches

NASA has been launching small rockets from Wallops Island (the Barrier Island to south of Chincoteague) since 1945. 

In recent years, however, Wallops has become better known for the large scale rocket launch taking place from the facility.  Rockets like Northrup Grumman’s Antares, which routinely launches from Wallops Island, carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

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Antares rocket lifts off from Pad-0B on Wallops Island

Five of the Best Launch Viewing Locations

#1 – NASA Wallops Visitor Center 

Please note that the Wallops Visitor Center remains closed due to Covid-19

Wallops Visitor Center Sign

The Launch Viewing Area at the Visitor Center is located 7 miles from the launch range and provides a clear view of the launch pads. There is no charge to view launches from the Visitor Center but space is limited.  There are five bleachers available for seating. Blankets and chairs are also permitted. Live audio from the NASA Range Control Center is broadcast live at the viewing area. For more information about viewing launches at the Wallops Visitor Center follow this link: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/events/viewing_launches.html

#2 – Mariners Point at Curtis Merritt Harbor

Please beware that this location may be closed for certain launches, depending on the launch hazard area which changes for every launch.

Mariners Point

Chincoteague Island Waterman’s Memorial at Mariners Point looking south towards Wallops Island

Mariners Point is located at the southern tip of Chincoteague Island, next Curtis Merritt Harbor.  It is the site of the Chincoteague Island Waterman’s Memorial.  Visitors to this location should park at the south end of Curtis Merritt Harbor and walk up the hill (follow the signs).  Note that parking may fill up fast during large scale launch events. 

This location offers direct and unobstructed views of Wallops Island rocket launches. 

#3 – Maddox Blvd near the Museum of Chincoteague

Maddox Blvd – from the Museum of Chincoteague Island to the Assateague bridge – offers an unobstructed view of rocket launches from Wallops Island. The elevated walking bridge on the north side of the road is ideal for launch viewing.

Note that you will need to park on the side of road or in McDonald’s parking lot. 

Please note that the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore (Virginia District) is typically closed during large scale rocket launches.  Please check the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge website for potential closures.

#4 – Robert Reed Waterfront Park

Robert Reed Waterfront Park is located in the beautiful historic downtown area of Chincoteague Island. Take in a rocket launch then dine at nearby restaurant and do a little shopping.

#5 – Queen’s Sound Landing

Located along route 175 between the mainland and Chincoteague Island, Queen Sound landing provides a great view of Wallops Island rocket launches.  Please beware that parking is not permitted along route 175 and parking is very limited at this location.

Viewing launches regionally

If you can’t make it here for a launch, but you live along the East Coast (especially the mid-Atlantic region), there is a good chance that a large scale rocket launch from Wallops Island will be visible in your area. 

Launch Visibility Maps are typically posted  to the NASA Wallops Flight Facility website.

Visibility Map

Example Visibility Map showing predicted visibility of a recent Anatares launch

Viewing launches online

Most major launches from Wallops Flight Facility are streamed live on NASA TV at (https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv) and the Wallops IBM video site (https://video.ibm.com/channel/nasa-tv-wallops).

Stay connected

Be sure to check the status of launches on a regular basis as launch dates and times are subject to change or cancelation in advance or at the last minute.   A variety of unforeseen circumstances can cause a launch to be postponed.

Wallops Launch Information Links

3335 Main Street
Chincoteague Island, VA 23336
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