What to Do in the Event of a Launch Anomaly

Space Coast residents have the unique opportunity of living near our country’s Gateway to Space Exploration; however, residents and visitors should be aware that launch accidents can and do occur. Public safety is the number one priority of all agencies associated with space launches and landings.


Review your five steps on your Pathways to Preparedness.

Stay aware of the latest schedule of launch events.

Although a launch mishap may be startling, remain calm and shelter in place.

Stay informed via radio, TV, and/or social media.

Await an 'all-clear' to be issued by local public safety officials.

Quick Facts

  • Brevard County Emergency Management activates in support of every space launch, and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter pages.
  • Brevard County’s area code 3-2-1 comes from the launch sequence, “3-2-1 Liftoff!”
  • Sometimes there will be launches with a major radiological source on-board, and our Emergency Management team works with NASA and CCAFS to ensure that our public is well protected and informed. Launches like this are advertised many years in advance, so public and private input can be incorporated into protective plans.
  • The most recent launch with a major radiological source on board was the Mars 2020 project that sent the rover, Perseverance, to Mars in July of 2020.

Potential Impacts

A launch anomaly provides the potential of hazardous materials and/or debris which may impact the county.

Historic Events

  • On June 28, 2015, the Falcon CRS 7 exploded 139 seconds into the launch. The booster continued on its trajectory until the vehicle completely broke up several seconds later. The Dragon CRS-7 capsule was ejected from the exploding launch vehicle and continued transmitting data until it impacted with the ocean.
  • On August 12, 1998, the Titan IV A20 exploded. Several thousand pieces of solid propellant and fragments of the launch vehicle were scattered over an area extending approximately five miles downrange and three miles north-south off the coastal boundary of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. In addition, a cloud containing unspent rocket propellant was generated. The winds were measured to be approximately four knots from the southwest (241 degrees) and took the cloud harmlessly out to sea. All toxic materials remained within the established predicted toxic corridor. At no time during this incident was there a toxic risk to any person. Additionally, no debris impacted the land. For several minutes after the explosion, Range radar reported tracking debris into the area bordered by the impact limit lines.
  • On January 17, 1997, a Delta II rocket exploded 13 seconds into flight due to a malfunction. Debris from the explosion fell into the Atlantic Ocean, and on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Some debris landed around the launch pad, and a small fire started. Other debris landed in the parking lot outside the complex blockhouse, destroying twenty cars that were located there. Two hundred and fifty tons of debris fell within 910 meters (3,000 ft) of the launch pad. One piece of debris made a hole in a cable track, allowing smoke to enter the blockhouse.

Information on Dealing with These Hazards