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How to Watch a Rocket Launch at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

There is nothing quite like it on Earth. Watching a rocket launch from a few miles/kilometers away provides a unique perspective on the technology and power required to send spacecraft into Earth orbit. The countdown to liftoff begins with the flash of fire and smoke as the rocket engines ignite. Initially, ascent seems slower than it should as the rocket fuel does its job of propelling giant machinery toward space. Seconds later, the rocket soars overhead as the delayed rumble of the engines becomes a roar that vibrates through the landscape and the viewers close enough to feel the effects.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers the closest public viewing of launches from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Each launch follows safety precautions determined by the United States Air Force Eastern Test Range, which in turn determines the viewing areas available to visitors. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides four viewing area options: at the main visitor complex outside of Space Shuttle Atlantis, Banana Creek viewing area at Apollo/Saturn V Center, NASA Causeway, and the closest viewing is found at the LC-39 Observation Gantry. Not all viewing areas are available for every launch and some areas require a ticket in addition to daily admission. However, since the visitor complex is open every day, launch viewing is always available from the main visitor complex with daily admission if the launch takes place during operating hours. Learn more about how to See A Launch from viewing areas at Kennedy Space Center and check the visitor complex event calendar for the launch schedule and viewing opportunities. Sign up for email notifications about events at the visitor complex, including launch viewing opportunities.

Official launch dates are confirmed by NASAUnited States Air Force or commercial partners involved in the mission such as SpaceX or United Launch Alliance (ULA). Only official launch dates are included on the visitor complex event calendar. Once launch dates are officially confirmed, a visitor complex launch viewing plan is initiated that includes viewing area options and ticket sales. Ideally, launch viewing/transportation tickets go on sale approximately two weeks before the scheduled launch date. However, launches are scheduled as windows of time, based on many factors required for mission success, and subject to change at any time. Currently the visitor complex does not support launch viewing when the launch time is scheduled significantly outside of operating hours.

Each launch is different, but launch viewing at LC-39 Observation Gantry, Apollo/Saturn V Center and NASA Causeway may be available with purchase of an additional launch viewing/transportation ticket. After arriving and parking at the visitor complex, launch viewing/transportation ticket holders are transported by bus from the main visitor complex to special viewing areas at Kennedy Space Center. Visitors must have a daily admission ticket or annual pass in order to utilize launch viewing/transportation tickets and security protocol requires that all ticket holders must be transported by bus to these secure facilities. Bus boarding for launch viewing/transportation ticket holders begins three hours before the scheduled launch time as it takes time to load and transport ticket holders by bus. Parking traffic increases closer to launch time, so make time for parking, entering the complex (including security bag search), and walking to bus boarding. Arrive early to assure your viewing spot! Learn more about how to prepare for launch viewing as a visitor.

Launch viewing/transportation tickets, when available, may be purchased online at www.kennedyspacecenter.com. The VIP Launch Viewing tab will appear on the ticket page when tickets are available. If you do not see VIP Launch Viewing, tickets are not currently for sale. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for launch viewing opportunities and updates.

Though Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides launch viewing opportunities, we do not have any control over the actual launch schedule. When a launch is delayed before entering the countdown, launch viewing/transportation tickets remain valid until that specific mission lifts off, or is indefinitely delayed. If a launch is “scrubbed” during the countdown, launch viewing/transportation tickets are considered used in full. Learn more about how the circumstances of each launch can affect the actual Launch Scrub Policy.

Kennedy Space Center's launch pad LC-39B is not currently being utilized for launches. NASA has leased launch pad LC-39A to SpaceX and is modifying LC-39B for NASA’s future Space Launch System (SLS) to transport astronauts to Mars and deep space. SpaceX launches the Falcon 9 from LC-39A and plans to launch astronauts in the Crew Dragon capsule on the Falcon Heavy rocket to the International Space Station in support of the Commercial Crew Program. Testing for SLS is scheduled to begin in 2018. With such exciting missions planned, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will continue to provide the best access to launch viewing on Florida’s Space Coast.