On July 24, 1950, NASA launched its first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, ushering in the space era. Just 11 years later, Alan Shepard blasted off from the cape to become the first American in space. Thanks to its unique alignment with the Earth's rotation, Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral became the sites for thousands of launches, including the historic Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle missions. This mission of exploration is still alive and in the coming years, the historic launch pads of Kennedy Space Center will once again send humans into space. Today, NASA and companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are further expanding the boundaries of what's possible, pursuing Mars exploration, reusable rockets and commercial space flight in a collaborative and ground-breaking new space race.
Visitors to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex℠ can get a front row seat to this history-making spectacle. Nearly 40 launches are expected in 2018, more than twice the usual amount.
Take in the ground-shaking action from one of four locations situated within mere miles of the launch pads. From the viewing platforms of the four-story LC-39 Observation Gantry, watch rockets take off from the same launch pad that propelled the Apollo and space shuttle missions into orbit and size up the neighboring 525-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building, where the center puts together its largest rockets. From the lawn of the NASA Causeway, enjoy an up-close view of the launch pads across Indian River, or watch from the comfort of the Apollo/Saturn V Center or main visitor complex. Whatever the location, the anticipation is palpable. Space experts offer exclusive live commentary and minute-by-minute updates leading up to the main show: the brilliant burst of flame on the horizon, the thunderous roar of the engines and the blinding arc of light left by the rocket as it rises into the great beyond.
“We offer a front row seat for guests to see, hear and feel the sensations of a rocket launch, a must-see, must-do experience,” says Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. "With an ongoing schedule of rocket launches, there are plenty of opportunities for guests to witness history in the making, whether it’s a resupply mission to the International Space Station or a vital weather satellite being launched into orbit and soon, astronauts once again leaving Earth."
Access to the special viewing areas comes with the purchase of a Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex launch viewing and transportation ticket, in addition to daily admission. Learn about some of 2018's most exciting launches as well as viewing opportunities below, and stay up to date on upcoming launches here.