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Rocket Launch: April 18, 2018 6:51PM EST | SpaceX Falcon 9 TESS

Apr 18, 2018 April 18, 2018 TBA Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Space Launch Complex 40 Rocket Launch: April 18, 2018 6:51PM EST | SpaceX Falcon 9 TESS


SpaceX is scheduled to launch NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on a Falcon 9 rocket into high Earth elliptical orbit. The TESS mission will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, using an array of telescopes to perform a two-year survey. TESS is designed to detect small planets with bright host stars in the solar neighborhood by monitoring over 200,000 stars. 


UPDATE 4/17: Launch Transportation/Viewing Tickets for TESS are sold out for Wednesday, April 18, 2018 launch attempt.

If you have already purchased daily admission and Launch Viewing/Transportation Tickets, we recommend you read our “Prepare For a Launch Day” blog in preparation for the next launch.


For LC-39A Observation Gantry and Apollo/Saturn V Center ticket holders:

  • Ticket holders must be transported by only visitor complex tour buses to these secure facilities.
  • Bus boarding for these locations begins about three hours before the scheduled launch time. Check your ticket for your bus boarding location. Prepare for traffic and arrive early so you do not miss your bus.
  • Apollo/Saturn V Center ticket holders should not take the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour before they board their bus for the launch.


Those viewing the launch from the main visitor complex will not board a bus to see the launch. We recommend you take the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour as part of your daily admission early in the day. The bus tours will run continuously from 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM, and the tour ends at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. The center will close to daily admission guests by 3:30 PM to prepare for the launch.

The visitor complex opens at 9:00 AM. Be sure to arrive early and prepare for increased attendance and traffic on launch days.  Refunds cannot be offered for late arrivals. Learn more about our Launch Scrub Policy.

TESS Exhibits and Show:

In preparation for the launch, NASA will be on site with various interactive exhibits that are specific to the TESS mission. Visit the following stations on the bottom floor of Space Shuttle Atlantis® from April 14 – 18:

Meet TESS Station:
Get up close to TESS hardware and a TESS transit interactive science demonstration. Talk to NASA subject matter experts and learn about TESS from the source. Grab some TESS giveaways too!

What is a Transit? Station:
Engage with a hands-on TESS demonstration that will show how transiting exoplanets are identified.

TESS Coloring Station:
The next generation of space explorers will enjoy the TESS coloring station. Kids can color a TESS coloring page and bring home a full TESS coloring book.

ABCs of Exoplanets Station:
Using iPads, learn about the basics of exoplanets. Take the interaction home with a giveaway from NASA.


You can also learn more about TESS by catching the Eyes on the Universe show, NASA’s TESS Mission: Searching for More Exoplanets. This 3D 4K presentation can be found in Universe Theater the day of the launch, April 16.

Helpful Links:

  • Learn more about how to prepare for launch viewing as a visitor.
  • Follow us on Twitter for the most up-to-date launch updates.
  • Read more about SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Availability of viewing opportunities and locations is dependent upon the scheduled launch time and is subject to NASA and U.S. Air Force approval. Launch date, time, and viewing opportunities are subject to change. Launches can be affected by technical and mechanical issues as well as range operations and weather, either in advance or at the last minute.

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