Payload Blog

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 the closest public viewing just a few miles/kilometers away is an unforgettable experience. The countdown to liftoff begins with the flash of fire as the rocket engines ignite. Seconds later, the rocket soars overhead and the rumble of the engines becomes a roar that vibrates through the landscape.

Viewing a rocket launch is something you will not soon forget. Here are some frequently asked questions on how to watch a launch from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

 

What types of tickets may be available for launch viewing?

The visitor complex currently offers three types of viewing opportunities:

  • Included with Admission - some viewing is included with admission
  • Launch Transportation Tickets (LTTs) - sold in addition to admission, if offered
  • Rocket Launch Packages - include admission and special inclusions

 

Whether launch viewing is available through admission, a Launch Transportation Ticket, or a launch viewing package is decided by the visitor complex based on the launch window, the scale of the launch, and the anticipated public interest.

For uncrewed rocket launches, like communications satellites or International Space Station resupply missions, the visitor complex may offer viewing included with admission and/or with a Launch Transportation Ticket (LTT). LTTs are available in addition to admission and may be purchased ahead of time or day-of if the viewing locations are not sold out.

For crewed or milestone launches (like Artemis missions) the visitor complex offers launch viewing packages. These packages bundle visitor complex admission, expert launch commentary, a return visit in the event of a scrub, and other commemorative perks specific to each launch. Other forms of admission cannot be redeemed on the launch day when packages are offered, such as annual pass admissions.

 

What are the launch viewing locations?

Launch viewing is offered for rocket launches lifting off from Kennedy Space Center and adjacent Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Launch viewing availability is offered based on safety protocols of the United States Space Force Eastern Test Range and the time of day the launch takes place. The following viewing options may be opened for a rocket launch:

  • LC-39 Observation Gantry
  • Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area (adjacent to the Apollo/Saturn V Center)
  • The Apollo/Saturn V Center lawn
  • The main visitor complex, with bleachers set up in designated viewing areas

 

Are all of these locations available at every launch?

Availability of these locations is different for every launch. Launch viewing at the main visitor complex is ofter included with admission if the launch takes place during operating hours, but not all viewing areas are available for every launch. Certain locations may be too close to the launch pad for safe viewing. For instance, the LC-39 Observation Gantry is never open for launches from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39, as the gantry is too close to those pads.

 

NASA's Space Launch System on launch pad 39B awaiting launch day

 

Why don't I see a certain launch date on the website?

Only official, publicly announced launch dates or timeframes are included on the visitor complex event calendar. Official launch dates are confirmed by NASA, United States Space Force, or commercial partners involved in the mission such as SpaceX or United Launch Alliance (ULA). Once launch dates are publicly confirmed, the visitor complex announces launch viewing options for guests. For larger launches, such as crewed missions, the visitor complex may go on sale with launch viewing packages before a date or time is announced, and guests purchasing a package understand that the launch may occur at any time.

 REMEMBER

A launch's scheduled date and time are always subject to change at any time with little or no notice.

View Event Calendar

 

Learn more about how launches are scheduled:

 

 

 

How can I purchase tickets?

If available, LTTs or launch viewing packages may be purchased online or by calling the reservation department. You may purchase admission at any time. We recommend you visit the Events Calendar and the specific launch event page for all details before making a purchase.

 Important Tip

LTTs and packages can sell out quickly as there is a limited amount of tickets available. Check out the resources available to you listed under "How do I find out about launch viewing opportunities?" below to ensure you do not miss when they go on sale.

How do you access launch viewing areas? Can I drive myself?

After arriving and parking at the visitor complex, guests wishing to view the rocket launch should proceed to our front entrance and go through security screening. Those viewing the launch from the main visitor complex will be directed to the day's viewing locations.

Those with LTTs or certain launch viewing packages are transported by bus from inside the main visitor complex to special viewing areas through NASA's gates. Security protocol requires that all ticket holders are transported only by visitor complex buses to these secure facilities, so you may not drive yourself.

 Important Tip

Traffic increases closer to launch time, so allow time for parking, entering the complex, security bag search and walking to bus boarding. Arrive early to assure your viewing spot! We cannot offer refunds for late arrivals.

What happens when a lunch is delayed or scrubbed?

Though Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides launch viewing opportunities, we do not have any control over the actual launch schedule or the success of a launch. Please review our scrub policy for both LTTs and launch viewing packages - the scrub policy differs depending on the type of ticket purchased.

If a launch is scrubbed, it takes time to return to the main visitor complex from your viewing location. All visitors return by bus, which often results in longer wait times for bus boarding. Please plan accordingly.

 

How can I find out about launch viewing opportunities?

 

 

See you at the next launch!

 

This blog was originally published in 2016 and was last updated August 17, 2022.

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