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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 events

1. Holidays in Space 2023

Events

Date: 15 Dec - 30 Dec 2023

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Don't miss out on Starflake's Holiday Voyage as it makes its return for Holidays in Space at the Kennedy Space Center this festive season.

Kennedy Space Center events

2. Meet Astronaut Jose Hernandez

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 19 Dec - 22 Dec 2023

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet astronaut Jose Hernandez as part of the Astronaut Encounter initiative. Keep your questions ready!

Kennedy Space Center events

3. Meet Astronaut Norm Thagard

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 23 Dec - 29 Dec 2023

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet NASA veteran Norm Thagard as he makes an appearance at the Kennedy Space Center. Keep your questions ready!

Kennedy Space Center Launch

4. NET December 28, 2023 | SpaceX Falcon Heavy USSF-52

Rocket Launches

Date: 28 Dec 2023 7 PM

Location: Launch Complex 39A, Kennedy Space Center

This December, a mission for the United States Space Force, USSF-52, is scheduled for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad.

Kennedy Space Center events

5. Meet Astronaut John Fabian

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 30 Dec 2023 - 2 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet NASA astronaut John Fabian, who will talk about his journey in the world of space exploration, and answer any questions you may have.

Kennedy Space Center events

6. Meet Astronaut Mike Foreman

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 3 Jan - 7 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Included with daily admission, join a live presentation at Astronaut Encounter to meet astronaut Mike Foreman. Don't forget to bring your camera for an exclusive picture!

Kennedy Space Center events

7. Meet Astronaut Sam Gemar

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 8 Jan - 11 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Talk to astronaut Sam Gemar during the Astronaut Encounter experience or Chat with an Astronaut to find out about his experiences.

Kennedy Space Center Launch

8. NET | SpaceX Falcon 9 Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3)

Rocket Launches

Date: 9 Jan 2024

Location: TBD

Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) represents the third privately funded mission tasked with transporting a crew of four individuals to the International Space Station.

Kennedy Space Center Launch

9. Fly With An Astronaut

Event

Date: 12 Jan - 14 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Experience an exclusive program as you go on a guided tour behind the gates of Kennedy Space Center, enjoy lunch, and embark on a simulated space launch with an astronaut on the Shuttle Launch Experience®.

Kennedy Space Center events

10. Meet Astronaut Bob Cenker

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 12 Jan - 14 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Astronaut Bob Cenker makes an appearance at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at the Astronaut Encounter event.

Kennedy Space Center events

11. Meet Astronaut Tom Jones

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 15 Jan - 18 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Engage with astronaut Tom Jones through various opportunities, whether it's participating in the Astronaut Encounter, including a Chat With An Astronaut in your day, or attending an autograph session.

Kennedy Space Center astronaut appearance

12. Meet Astronaut Anna Fisher

Events

Date: 19 Jan - 22 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Connect with astronaut Anna Fisher at Astronaut Encounter, engage in a Chat With An Astronaut session, and seize a couple of autograph opportunities.

Kennedy Space Center events

13. Space Race 2024

Events

Date: 19 Jan 2024, 7 PM

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Participate in a 3K walk or run across the visitor complex to support the United Way of Brevard. Registration is currently available!

Kennedy Space Center events

14. Meet Astronaut Richard (Rick) Hieb

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 23 Jan - 26 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Engage with astronaut Richard (Rick) Hieb through Astronaut Encounter, a Chat With An Astronaut session, and several autograph opportunities.

Kennedy Space Center astronaut encounter

15. Meet Astronaut Marcos Pontes

Astronaut Appearance

Date: 27 Jan - 31 Jan 2024

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Meet seasoned NASA astronaut Marcos Pontes as he returns to the Visitor Complex. Discover what its like to be an astronaut through the Astronaut Encounter experience.

Kennedy Space Center Launch

16. Kennedy Under The Stars

After Hours Event

Date: 2 Feb 2024 6:30 PM

Location: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Make sure you catch the premiere of a brand-new event at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Kennedy Under the Stars!

Kennedy Space Center Launch

17. ULA Atlas V Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test

Rocket Launches

Date: TBD

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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Combo: Kennedy Space Center + Wheel at ICON Park Tickets
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Combo: Kennedy Space Center + Airboat Safari + Round-Trip Transfers
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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.