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 provides a unique perspective on the technology and power required to send spacecraft into Earth’s orbit and beyond. The countdown to liftoff begins with the flash of fire as the rocket engines ignite. Seconds later, the rocket soars overhead and the delayed rumble of the engines becomes a roar that vibrates through the landscape and to the viewers as they feel the effects.

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

What are the launch viewing locations? 

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers launch viewing opportunities for rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center and adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch viewing areas are provided for visitors based on safety protocols of the United States Air Force Eastern Test Range. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex may offer any of the following viewing area options for a rocket launch.

  • LC-39 Observation Gantry - not currently available
  • Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area (adjacent to the Apollo/Saturn V Center) - not currently available
  • The main visitor complex, next to Space Shuttle Atlantis®
  • Launch And A Movie viewing from the main visitor complex parking lots

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 always included with daily admission if the launch takes place during operating hours, but not all special viewing areas are available for every launch. Certain locations may be too close to the launch pad for safe viewing, and therefore will not be available for certain launches. The distance of each location from the launch pads depends on which pad is being used, either on Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral. For instance, the LC-39 Observation Gantry is never available for viewing launches from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39, as the gantry is located inside the restricted safety area for launch operations.

How can I purchase tickets?

You may purchase daily admission at any time. Launch viewing/transportation tickets, when available, may be purchased online or by calling the reservation office. The VIP Launch Viewing tab on the ticket page offers launch viewing/transportation ticket availability for the next upcoming launch.Daily admission tickets are always available for purchase online.

TIP: Tickets for launch viewing tickets outside of the main visitor complex 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.


Rocket Launch

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

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides you with access to the closest viewing locations behind NASA's gates. After arriving and parking at the visitor complex, launch viewing/transportation ticket holders are transported by bus from inside the main visitor complex to special viewing areas at Kennedy Space Center. Security protocol requires that all ticket holders are transported only by visitor complex buses to these secure facilities, so you may not drive yourself.Bus boarding for launch transportation ticket holders begins two hours or more before the scheduled launch time as it takes time to load and transport ticket holders by bus.

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.

It also takes time to return to the main visitor complex from a special viewing area after a launch or scrub announcement. All visitors return by bus, which often results in longer wait times for bus boarding.Please be prepared for longer wait times for all bus boarding and attractions on launch days as many wish to come out and see a launch too!

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

Only official launch dates are included on the visitor complex event calendar. Official launch dates are confirmed by NASA, United States Air Force or commercial partners involved in the mission such as SpaceX or United Launch Alliance (ULA). Once launch dates are officially confirmed, the visitor complex determines launch viewing options for visitors. If the launch is within operating hours, launch viewing/transportation tickets ideally go on sale as soon as possible before the scheduled launch date. However, launches are scheduled as windows of time, based on many factors required for mission success. These are always subject to change at any time.


Learn more about how launches are scheduled:

What happens when a launch 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.

  • A launch "delay" occurs before boarding the bus for the viewing location, and launch viewing/transportation tickets remain valid until that specific mission lifts off, or is indefinitely delayed.
  • A launch "scrub" occurs during the countdown. If buses are boarded for the viewing locations, launch viewing/transportation tickets are considered used in full as the services covered by the ticket are fulfilled. No matter how many times a particular mission scrubs, it requires support from the visitor complex to provide launch viewing. A ticket is required for viewing each launch attempt.

The circumstances of each launch can affect the actual Launch Scrub Policy.

How can I find out about launch viewing opportunities?

  • Sign up for email notifications about events at the visitor complex, including launch viewing opportunities.
  • Follow along on Twitter and Facebook for launch viewing opportunities and ticket sales updates.
  • Check the visitor complex event calendar for the launch schedule and viewing opportunities.
  • Discover how to See A Launch from viewing areas at Kennedy Space Center.

See you at the next launch!