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Your Guide to the Kennedy Space Center Rocket Launches & Events

Kennedy Space CenterLaunches & Events

The Kennedy Space Center is a world-renowned launch facility located on Merritt Island in Florida. It has been the site of some of humanity's most historic and groundbreaking space exploration achievements, beginning with Alan Shepard's first American flight into space in 1961. Stay on this page to learn about all the Kennedy Space Center launches as well as exciting programs that are taking place!

Kennedy Space Center Launches

Kennedy Space Center launch | rocket launches cape canaveral

*Launch dates, timings, and viewing opportunities are subject to change. They can be affected by technical and mechanical issues, range operations, and the weather. Changes can take place in advance or even at the last minute.

Kennedy Space Center Launches & Events Schedule

Kennedy Space Center astronaut appearance

1. Meet an Astronaut: Bob Cenker

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 9 April 2024 - 11 April 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Learn all the ways of an astronaut from Bob Cenker during your next visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

2. NET Aril 09, 2024 | ULA Delta IV Heavy NROL-70

Rocket launch

Date: 9 April 2024 at 12:53pm

Location: Apollo / Saturn V Center and Main Visitor Complex

Watch a ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket launch the NROL-70 mission from Kennedy Space Center. The mission for the National Reconnaissance Office will take off from Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This is the 16th and final launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket.

Kennedy Space Center events

3. Meet an Astronaut: Steve Swanson

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 12 April 2024 - 15 April 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Steve Swanson during the Astronaut Encounter, Chat With An Astronaut. Make use of the autograph opportunities and don’t forget to click pictures!

Kennedy Space Center events

4. Meet an Astronaut: Mark Lee

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 16 April 2024 - 20 April 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Mark Lee will participate in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. He will also sign autographs after the meet and greet so bring your pens, cameras and questions!

Kennedy Space Center astronaut encounter

5. Fly With An Astronaut

Event

Date: 19 April 2024 - 21 April, 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Take a guided tour behind the gates of Kennedy Space Center, eat lunch and launch into space aboard the Shuttle Launch Experience® with an astronaut during this exclusive program.

Kennedy Space Center Launch

6. Meet an Astronaut: John D. Bartoe

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 21 April 2024 - 25 April 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Head over to Kennedy Space Center and meet astronaut John D. Bartoe during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Take advantage of the autograph opportunities!

Kennedy Space Center Launch

7. Meet an Astronaut: Jim Newman

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 26 April 2024 - 30 April 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Jim Newman during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Bring your pens for autograph opportunities and your questions!

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Launches & Programs

8. NET May 2024 | ULA Atlas V Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test

Rocket Launch

Date: May 2024

Location: Space Launch Complex 41 • Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

The Crew Flight Test will demonstrate the ability of Starliner and the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket to safely carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Launches & Programs

9. Meet an Astronaut: Anna Fisher

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 1 May 2024 - 4 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Catch Anna Fisher during the Astronaut Encounter, Chat With An Astronaut and get a few autograph opportunities.

Kennedy Space Center

10. Meet an Astronaut: Fred Gregory

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 5 May 2024 - 8 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Fred Gregory will participate in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. He will also sign autographs after the meet and greet so bring your pens, cameras and questions!

Kennedy Space Center

11. Meet an Astronaut: John D. Bartoe

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 9 May 2024 - 12 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Head over to Kennedy Space Center and meet astronaut John D. Bartoe during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Take advantage of the autograph opportunities!

Kennedy Space Center

12. Meet an Astronaut: Bob Thirsk

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 13 May 2024 - 16 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Bob Thirsk during your next trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

Kennedy Space Center

13. Meet an Astronaut: Charlie Walker

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 17 May 2024 - 20 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Learn all the ways of an astronaut from Charlie Walker during your next visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

Kennedy Space Center

14. Meet an Astronaut: John Herrington

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 21 May 2024 - 24 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut John Herrington will participate in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. He will also sign autographs after the meet and greet so bring your pens, cameras and questions!

Kennedy Space Center

15. Fly With An Astronaut

Event

Date: 24 May 2024 - 26 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Go on a guided tour with an astronaut behind the gates of Kennedy Space Center in this exclusive program that lets you enjoy lunch on and experience a simulated space launch aboard Shuttle Launch Experience®.

Kennedy Space Center

16. Meet an Astronaut: Guy Gardner

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 25 May 2024 - 28 May 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Guy Gardner during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Bring your pens for autograph opportunities and your questions!

Kennedy Space Center

17. Meet an Astronaut: Norm Thagard

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 29 May 2024 - 1 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Norm Thagard heads back to the visitor complex to meet and greet you in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut experiences. Head over to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to meet this veteran NASA astronaut during your visit.

Kennedy Space Center

18. 2024 U.S. Astronaut Hall Of Fame® Induction

Events

Date: 1 June 2024 at 11:00am

Location: Bottom Floor of Space Shuttle Atlantis®

The 2024 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® Induction Ceremony will be hosted at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at 11:00 am.

Kennedy Space Center

19. Meet an Astronaut: Brian Duffy

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 2 June 2024 - 5 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Learn how one becomes an astronaut and what an astronaut does in his day-to-day work with Brian Duffy during your next trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

Kennedy Space Center

20. Meet an Astronaut: Steve Smith

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 6 June 2024 - 11 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet veteran NASA astronaut Steve Smith for an unforgettable experience at Kennedy Space Center.

Kennedy Space Center

21. Fly With An Astronaut

Events

Date: 7 June 2024 - 9 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Take a guided tour aboard the Shuttle Launch Experience® with an astronaut during this exclusive program. You get to eat lunch in and experience a simulation of launching into space in this attraction.

Kennedy Space Center

22. Meet an Astronaut: Norm Thagard

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 12 June 2024 - 14 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Learn all the ways of an astronaut from Norm Thagard during your next visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

Kennedy Space Center

23. Meet an Astronaut: Terry Wilcutt

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 15 June 2024 - 18 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Terry Wilcutt during Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Get his autograph and make use of this opportunity to ask all your questions about being an astronaut!

Kennedy Space Center

24. Meet an Astronaut: John Fabian

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 19 June 2024 - 22 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut John Fabian will participate in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. He will also sign autographs after the meet and greet so bring your pens, cameras and questions!

Kennedy Space Center

25. Meet an Astronaut: Ken Cameron

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 23 June 2024 - 26 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Head over to Kennedy Space Center and meet astronaut Ken Cameron during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Take advantage of the autograph opportunities!

Kennedy Space Center

26. NET June 25, 2024 | SpaceX Falcon Heavy GOES-U

Rocket Launch

Date: 25 June 2024

Location: Launch Complex 39A • Kennedy Space Center

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the GOES-U mission for NASA.

Kennedy Space Center

27. Meet an Astronaut: Barbara Morgan

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 27 June 2024 - 28 June 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center

Catch Barbara Morgan during the Astronaut Encounter, Chat With An Astronaut and get a few autograph opportunities.

Kennedy Space Center

28. Meet an Astronaut: Bill McArthur

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 29 June 2024 - 2 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Bill McArthur during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Bring your pens for autograph opportunities and your questions!

Kennedy Space Center

29. Meet an Astronaut: Mike Baker

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 3 July 2024 - 6 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Mike Baker during Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut experience. Bring your camera, your questions and your pens for an autograph!

Kennedy Space Center

30. Meet an Astronaut: Mike Foreman

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 7 July 2024 - 10 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center

Astronaut Mike Foreman will participate in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. He will also sign autographs after the meet and greet so bring your pens, cameras and questions!

Kennedy Space Center

31. Meet an Astronaut: Charlie Walker

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 11 July 2024 - 15 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Head over to Kennedy Space Center and meet astronaut Charlie Walker during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Take advantage of the autograph opportunities!

Kennedy Space Center

32. Fly With An Astronaut

Events

Date: 12 July 2024 - 14 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Take a guided tour behind the gates of Kennedy Space Center with an astronaut. Eat lunch and launch into space aboard the Shuttle Launch Experience® during this exclusive program.

Kennedy Space Center

33. Meet an Astronaut: Ken Cameron

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 15 July 2024 - 17 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Learn how one becomes an astronaut and what an astronaut does in his day-to-day work with Ken Cameron during your next trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

Kennedy Space Center

34. Meet an Astronaut: Marcos Pontes

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 18 July 2024 - 23 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Marcos Pontes heads back to the visitor complex to meet and greet you in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut experiences. Head over to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to meet this veteran NASA astronaut during your visit.

Kennedy Space Center

35. Meet an Astronaut: Roger Crouch

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 24 July 2024 - 27 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Roger Crouch during the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. Bring your pens for autograph opportunities and your questions!

Kennedy Space Center

36. Meet an Astronaut: Kathryn Thornton

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 28 July 2024 - 31 July 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Kathryn Thornton will participate in the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With An Astronaut. She will also sign autographs after the meet and greet so bring your pens, cameras and questions!

Kennedy Space Center

37. NET October 10, 2024 | SpaceX Falcon Heavy Europa Clipper

Rocket Launch

Date: 10 October 2024

Location: Launch Complex 39A • Kennedy Space Center

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter's icy moon for NASA.

Kennedy Space Center

38. April 2024 | SpaceX Falcon 9 Starlink 7-28

Rocket Launch

Date: April

Location: Space Launch Complex 40 • Cape Canaveral Space Force Base

SpaceX launch of a batch of Starlink v2-mini satellites for their second generation high-speed low earth orbit internet satellite constellation.

Kennedy Space Center

39. NET MAY 6, 2024 | ULA Atlas V Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test

Rocket Launch

Date: May 2024

Location: Space Launch Complex 41 • Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

The Crew Flight Test (CFT) will demonstrate the ability of Starliner and the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket to safely carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Kennedy Space Center Launch Viewing Areas

kennedy space center launch viewing area
kennedy space center launch viewing area

Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area

This viewing location is adjacent to the Apollo/Saturn V Center and offers outdoor bleacher seating with views of launch pads across the Banana Creek. If the Apollo/Saturn V Center is open during the launch window it also includes Apollo Program exhibits and offers a close-up look at the world’s largest rocket, the Saturn V.

Distance to Launch Pads:

  • To Atlas V SLC-41: 5.4 miles/8.7 kilometers (approximately)
  • To Falcon 9 SLC-40: 6.2 miles/10 kilometers (approximately)
  • To Delta IV SLC-37: 8 miles/12.8 kilometers (approximately)
  • To SpaceX LC-39A: 3.9 miles/6.27 kilometers (approximately)

Amenities and Inclusions:

  • Bleacher seating and open lawn area (available on a first-come, first-served basis).
  • Access to the Apollo/Saturn V Center when open, as well as dining and shopping. Note that the Apollo/Saturn V Center may be closed on account of private events or due to other operational concerns.

The First Launch at the Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy space center rocket launches | cape canaveral

Historic Launches at the Kennedy Space Center

kennedy sapce center rocket launches- NASA moon landing
kennedy space center rocket launch

Skylab

  • Skylab was the first United States space station launched by NASA.
  • It was engaged for about 24 weeks between May 1973 and February 1974.
  • The main functions were an orbital workshop, a solar observatory, Earth observation, and hundreds of other experiments.
  • The last Saturn V launch put the Skylab space station in orbit. 
  • In 1979, when it was not able to be re-boosted by the Space Shuttle, its orbit decayed and disintegrated in the atmosphere.
kennedy space center rocket launch
kennedy space center rocket launch

Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs)

  • Since 1958, NASA and the military worked together on robotic mission launches.
  • In the 1960s, NASA had two robotic mission launches a month and the frequent number of flights allowed for quick evolution of the vehicles.
  • From the 1950s up until 1978, Kennedy Space Center chose the rocket and payload processing facilities for all robotic missions that were launched in the United States.
  • Kennedy Space Center carried out this function for commercial and foreign missions as well.
kennedy space center rocket launch

Space Station Processing

  • During the 1990s, the Kennedy Space Center began to work with other NASA centers as well as international partners to prepare for processing before the launch of the Space Shuttle.
  • It utilized its experience processing the 22 Spacelab missions in the Operations and Checkout Building to understand ISS processing.
  • Today, the Kennedy Space Center continues to process International Space Station payloads from across the world before launch along with developing its experiments for on orbit.

Present Programs at the Kennedy Space Center

  • Commercial Crew Program: It provides commercially-operated crew transportation service to and from the International Space Station (ISS) under contract to NASA.
  • Exploration Ground Systems Program: NASA is currently designing the next heavy launch vehicle for continuation of human spaceflight.
  • Launch Services Program: This is responsible for NASA's oversight of launch operations and countdown management, providing added quality and mission assurance.
  • Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa): This is an initiative to invite more students into the field of science, mathematics, technology, and engineering.
  • Artemis Program: The main goal of this is to return humans to the moon, specifically the lunar south pole, by 2024.
  • Lunar Gateway: This is a planned small space station in lunar orbit intended to serve as a solar-powered communication hub.
  • International Space Station Payloads: This is a framework that has been adopted by the International Space Station to support various types of hardware.
  • Camp KSC: Educational camps in KSC for schoolchildren in spring and summer that focuses on aviation and robotics.



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Frequently Asked Questions About Kennedy Space Center Launches & Events

How many Kennedy Space Center launches and events will take place this year?

The Kennedy Space Center has regular launches and events that take place. Keep an eye out for a rocket launch, an astronaut encounter, and other exclusive events here!

When is the next major Kennedy Space Center launch?

The next launch from Kennedy Space Center is the NASA Psyche Mission taking place on 5 October. This mission will send a spacecraft to study an asteroid of the same name.

When was the first Kennedy Space Center launch?

On November 9, 1967, the first-ever launch took place at the Kennedy Space Center at Launch Complex 39. This was the first flight test of the 363-foot-tall Saturn V.

What are some of the most historic Kennedy Space Center launches?

Some of the most historic Kennedy Space Center launches include the Apollo missions, the Saturn V, Skylab, and Shuttle Discovery. 

Can I view a Kennedy Space Center rocket launch for free?

No, you need to purchase tickets to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and view any launches that are taking place. You can book your tickets here

Is viewing a rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center worth it?

Yes, viewing a rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you don't want to miss. 

Is seating available at the Kennedy Space Center launch viewing areas?

Yes, seating is available at the various Kennedy Space Center launch viewing areas, however, they are subject to a first-come, first-served basis.

Where are the Kennedy Space Center launch viewing areas?

There are 3 main Kennedy Space Center launch viewing areas - the main Visitor Complex, the Banana Creek at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, and the LC-39 Observatory Gantry.

Can I view a rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center?

Yes, guests can view rocket launches from the main Visitor Center or the Banana Creek at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. To access the LC-39 Observatory Gantry, you must purchase an additional ticket.

How close are the viewing areas to the launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center?

The viewing areas at the Kennedy Space Center are just a few miles away from the launch pads with minimal obstructions.

Are there any launch rockets inside Kennedy Space Center?

The Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center has several original rockets on display. Visitors also have access to the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

Why is the Kennedy Space Center famous?

The Kennedy Space Center is famous for being NASA’s primary launch center of human spaceflight.

Why was the Kennedy Space Center built in Florida?

Kennedy Space Center was built in Florida because it is relatively close to the equator compared to other locations in the country. This makes it an ideal launch site.

When was the first Cape Canaveral rocket launch?

The first Cape Canaveral rocket launch was of a V-2 rocket on 24 July 1950.

What were some of the main Cape Canaveral rocket launches?

Significant rocket launches have take place from Cape Canaveral. The V-2 rocket Bumper, NASA's Project Mercury & Gemini space flights, and the Saturn I and IB rockets used in the Apollo missions, were all launches from Cape Canaveral.

Why was Cape Canaveral chosen for rocket launches?

Cape Canaveral is an ideal location to launch space flights because the linear velocity of the Earth being strongest towards the equator, which is the case in this area. Rockets are launch eastward in the same direction as the Earth's rotation to take advantage of this force. Additionally, the proximity of Cape Canaveral to the ocean leaves room for fewer accidents.