- Archived Page (InSight successfully launched on May 5, 2018)

InSight is first interplanetary launch from the West Coast

All of NASA's interplanetary launches to date have been from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, in part because the physics of launching off the East Coast are better for journeys to other planets. However, InSight will break the mold by launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It will be the first launch to another planet from the West Coast.

A whole new region of the country will get to see an interplanetary launch when InSight rockets into the sky. On a clear day, the launch may be visible from Santa Maria, Calif. to San Diego, Calif.

Weather permitting, InSight's pre-dawn launch (4:05 a.m.) may be visible for more than 10 million Californians without a need for them to drive to a special location. Just wake up early, check the InSight Website for assurance the launch is still on schedule, go outside, look at the western sky, marvel at the rocket's flare as it travels southward, and cheer InSight bon voyage to Mars.

When Will InSight Launch?

The first launch opportunity begins at
4:05 a.m. Pacific Time on May 5
The launch period is May 5 through June 8, 2018
Daily launch window times ›

InSight will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex-3 or SLC-3, and ride atop an Atlas V-401 rocket provided by United Launch Alliance, Centennial Colorado, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Space.

Official Viewing Sites

Lompoc City Airport

The City of Lompoc is opening up the Lompoc City Airport for public viewing of the InSight launch on Saturday, May 5. Guests can see the launch from the tarmac along with NASA/InSight mission team members and city representatives.

Launch audio will begin at 3:30 am. Guests should arrive no earlier than 2:30 a.m.

Address: 1801 N H St, Lompoc, CA 93436. Entrance to airport is off “O” street (cross street is W. Central Ave.)
Get directions ›

St. Mary's Episcopal Church

St. Mary's Episcopal Church is welcoming visitors to view the launch on Saturday, May 5. Visitors are welcome to interact with NASA/InSight mission team members.
Launch audio will begin at 3:30 am. Guests should arrive no earlier than 2:30 a.m.

Address: 2800 Harris Grade Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436.
Get directions ›

Informal Viewing Sites

Viewing from the Greater Los Angeles Area

The most recent previous nighttime launch of an Atlas V from Vandenberg Air Force Base, in September 2017, was bright enough and high enough in the western sky to be clearly visible from back yards, streets, hills and beaches throughout the Los Angeles area and much of southern California.

Vandenberg Air Force Base Launch Viewing

There is no public viewing on Vandenberg Air Force Base. Some of the best places to watch launches are actually off-base due to the dense fog that usually blankets the area in the summer months.


Ocean Avenue

A local favorite in the city of Lompoc is W. Ocean Avenue (near Renwick Avenue). This road is near the launch site but closes at some point as you near the base. Many people pull off to a safe spot on the side of the road to watch.

Providence Landing and Harris Grade

The park at Providence Landing and a mountain road called Harris Grade is good for south Vandenberg launches. That site has the added bonus of being above the area's sometimes-dense fog.

Beaches to the South of Lompoc

A launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base offers local residents throughout California an opportunity to view the launch from many coastal communities. Be sure to check with the local beach to make sure it is open. Some beaches may be closed during launch or reservations may be required. Plus, there may be associated parking and other fees. Jalama Beach and Ocean Beach Park, adjacent to Vandenberg Air Force Base, are generally evacuated for launches.

Santa Ynez and Los Padres National Forest

Some people have gone as far as Figueroa Mountain in the Los Padres National Forest and West Camino Cielo Road off of Highway 154 at San Marcos Pass.

Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties

People in locations south of Vandenberg, like Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties may be more likely to see the launch as the rocket flies overhead. Thick fog sometimes blankets the launch area, especially during the summer months.

Safe Viewing

InSight is scheduled to launch in the pre-dawn hours, while it is still dark. Dress in layers and be careful while it is still dark. Dense fog is common during InSight's launch period of May 5 through June 8, 2018.

Military personnel may be stationed around and near the base. It is important to follow their guidance and instructions and obey all road and parking rules.

Stay Connected for Updates

Check the InSight website and social media channels to get the latest updates on InSight’s launch. Schedules and launch times may shift frequently based on weather or launch-related delays.