This question is moderately inspired by this one, or at least the speculative answer "birds" that is ruled out on a second review of the video.

Various animals have learned signals of severe immediate danger that causes them to flee certain hazards. However, the hazard of "rocket launch" is sufficiently rare and modern that most wildlife have probably not learned how to get away from a rocket that is about to launch, or even be able to tell that a rocket is about to launch.

Prior to launch, the range is cleared of humans and certain human vehicles (drones, etc.) and that's part of the check sequence. Also, a certain number of insects etc. are just expected to die in the firing of rocket engines that are boosting payloads to orbit.

Prior to certain other events (e.g. demolitions by implosion), there are warning signals sounded so that any creature close enough to feel alarmed will run away.

The question is, is there any siren or warning signal sounded before rocket launches, to give wildlife a heads up to get out of there?

Are there any indicative statistics about animal loss during launches?
How close can I get to a rocket launch and not get killed?


2 Answers 2


This is actually a non-trivial problem, one that NASA was seeking help for in 2006. It seems the plan mostly involves firing a number of propane cannons in the area to scare away birds (Which are the animal of most concern, as they could damage the vehicles) They have even released a complete paper on the subject, which also mentions "Sound Deterrent Systems" installed in 2005. The bird of most concern is Vultures, and they key to reducing their population in the area seems to be reducing roadkill.

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    $\begingroup$ A bird hitting a launch vehicle like the space shuttle - you mean like this? $\endgroup$
    – WBT
    Jan 18, 2016 at 4:45

According to this NASA article, "Because the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge coexists inside Kennedy Space Center, the launch pads have a number of measures available, including warning sirens, to deter birds and other creatures from getting too close. The launch team also uses radar to watch for birds before a shuttle liftoff."

This seems to be specific to KSC.


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