Are you ready to experience a rocket launch like never before? USA TODAY and FLORIDA TODAY worked together to blend technologies that will put you in control of a rocket launch from anywhere in the world.
The free 321 LAUNCH app, fuses traditional Space Coast rocket launch coverage with augmented reality, or the overlaying of digital objects onto the real world.
The app leverages cameras available in smartphones and tablets to pull in a live feed of your surroundings while dropping spaceflight hardware – in this case, launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center – on any flat surface. Tables, floors, books, even a pizza – as long as it’s flat, the app will render high-definition 3D models of launch pads and a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket so you can learn, explore and, ultimately, follow live as a mission lifts off from the Space Coast.
The app is available as a free download in the App Store and Google Play — meaning it’s compatible for iPhone and Android.
The first section of the app is an educational experience that runs through the pre-launch procedures and allows you to build a Falcon 9, drag it out to Launch Complex 40, learn about the hardware and launch it on a mission to the International Space Station. After liftoff, the experience shifts focus to landing the booster of the rocket back at Cape Canaveral.
The second – and the core component – of 321 LAUNCH is a live experience that will only occur on launch days. You’ll be able to follow live as SpaceX teams count down to launch, all while staying tuned into:
- Live text updates from Space Reporter James Dean and myself.
- Live video: Either ours viewing the pad or SpaceX’s webcast.
- Live telemetry data to include altitude and speed after liftoff.
And, using cutting-edge GPS and compass mapping technology, a projection of the actual flight path over your sky.
But the app isn’t finished – we’re still working hard on producing even more interactive content. You can expect a brand new section that focuses on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and its various configurations at Launch Complex 41 for our next update.
Why you need it:
No other app in can claim to do what 321 LAUNCH does. Full-fledged teams of developers, journalists and editors were involved in the production process, so we’re proud to give you the opportunity to watch live as you bring rocket launches into your everyday life.
And I can almost guarantee that everyone will learn at least a thing or two from the educational experience. I know I did.
Keep in mind:
Augmented reality on mobile devices is still a cutting-edge technology that is actively being ironed out by Apple, Google and others. You’ll need a newer device to pull this off and possibly even a backup battery to feed energy-intensive AR processes.
Here’s a system requirements list:
- iPhone 6S or newer with iOS 11 or newer
- Fifth-generation iPad (2017) or newer
Android’s AR capabilities are limited to the following models:
- Google Pixel, Pixel XL or newer
- Samsung Galaxy S7 or newer
- Samsung Galaxy Note8
- LG V30 and LG V30+
- Asus Zenfone AR
- OnePlus 5
Next Space Coast launch: Monday, April 2
Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
Mission: International Space Station resupply
Launch Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Launch Window: Instantaneous
Launch Complex: 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Weather: Forecast expected three days before launch