Get a Front Row Seat to Rocket Launches at Kennedy Space Center

On July 24, 1950, NASA launched its first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, ushering in the space era.

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.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program's key milestones targeted for 2018 include test flights of both the SpaceX Dragon V2 and Boeing CST-100 Starliner. Both spacecraft were designed to carry astronauts back into space from American soil. Uncrewed test flights are targeted for the first half of the year, with the goal of crewed test flights by late 2018. (NASA Langley/David C. Bowman)
The SpaceX Dragon V2 will be capable of carrying up to seven crewmembers, landing propulsively almost anywhere on Earth, and refueling and flying again for rapid reusability. (SpaceX/Public Domain)
A look through the open hatch of the Dragon V2 reveals the layout and interior of the spacecraft. (NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)
Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center will be future home to NASA Commercial Crew Program launches and SpaceX Falcon Heavy missions. Blue Origin has also obtained a launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station—Complex 36—which it plans to use for space tourism launches. (Space X/Public Domain)
Located at the historic Launch Complex 39 where Apollo astronauts launched to the moon, the LC-39 Observation Gantry is the closest viewing area to the launch pads of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Shaded viewing from the gantry and outdoor bleacher seating make this the premium launch viewing area. Situated just two to five and a half miles from launch pads, visitors will feel the air rumble. (Michael Seeley)
Connecting Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the NASA Causeway offers an expansive view of launch pads just three to five miles away across the Indian River. Watch from the outdoor bleachers or bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket. (Michael Seeley)
This prime viewing location is dedicated to celebrating the Apollo program. The Apollo/Saturn V Center offers a close-up look at the world’s largest rocket, Saturn V, as well as theaters, displays of early space suit prototypes and an opportunity to touch a real moon rock. Outdoor bleacher seating offers views of launch pads five to eight miles away, and live commentary reports on the action.
Included with daily admission, this viewing area is located next to Space Shuttle Atlantis® in the main visitor complex. Visitors view rockets shoot through the sky once they clear the tree line from launch locations located seven miles away. Listen to the launch commentary, see the rocket trails and take time to explore the complex’s expansive offerings. (Michael Seeley)

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Learn more about rocket launches at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.