If one is going down to Florida, one of the most fun family activities to do together is watching a space rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The Kennedy Space Center has the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex that provides the closest public viewing along with live launch commentary from different space experts.
The Kennedy Space Center is one of the most important places everyone should visit who is interested in space. It is a place that can be combined with visiting Florida's stunning Cape Canaveral National Seashore and is a place demonstrating America's lead in space exploration and space rockets.
The Main Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
The visitor complex is a few miles away from the launch pads where visitors can watch the rockets fire off into space at a safe distance. Given the chance, watching the rockets launch is a jaw-dropping experience that everyone should have.
- Live Commentary: Listen To Live Space Commentary
The viewing area is next to the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the rockets come into view as they clear the tree line. The distance to the launch pads depends somewhat on the specific launch pad.
Distance From Viewing Area to Launch Pad:
- To Atlas V SLC-41: 7.1 miles
- To Falcon 9 SLC-40: 6.7 miles
- To Delta IV SLC-37: 7 miles
- To SpaceX LC-39A: 7.5 miles
The visitor complex also offers launch tickets for rocket launches. They can be purchased in advance or on the day (if the viewing locations are not sold out). These are in addition to daily admission.
Banana Creek & LC-39 Observation Gantry
Other viewing areas include the Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area and the LC-39 Observation Gantry.
Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area
The Banana Creek area offers outdoor bleacher seating and views across the Banana Creek - there is also the opportunity to see the world's largest rocket, the Saturn V, up close. Bleacher seating is available first-come, first-served and access include access to the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Banana Creek To Launch Pads:
- To Atlas V SLC-41: 5.4 miles
- To Falcon 9 SLC-40: 6.2 miles
- To Delta IV SLC-37: 8 miles
- To SpaceX LC-39A: 3.9 miles
LC-39 Observation Gantry
The LC-39 Observation Gantry offers the closest viewing of the rockets launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Here visitors can watch from the shaded viewing of the gantry and from the outdoor bleacher seating
LC-39 to Launch Pads:
- To Atlas V SLC-41: 2.3 miles
- To Falcon 9 SLC-40: 3.4 miles
- To Delta IV SLC-37: 5.5 miles
While this option may offer the closest viewing for Altas V, Falcon 9, and Delta IV, it is too close for safety viewing SpaceX or NASA launches.
Consider Other Areas Outside The Kennedy Space Center
There are of course other areas where one can watch the rockets blast off into space, but the visitor complex has the advantages of having launch commentary and minimal viewing obstructions. While there, one can also view the visitor complex's excellent attractions, shows, and other attractions during normal operational hours.
If it's a popular launch (like SpaceX's Starship), then the viewing areas may be sold out at the visitor center. But one is not out of luck, there are places along the shores of the Indian River Lagoon and the coastline one can still see them.
Some notable locations include:
- Marina Park: North Of The Titusville Marina - Open 7.00 am To Dark
- Sand Point Park: Popular View Site On The Indian River Lagoon In Historic Titusville - Open Dawn to Dusk
- Playalinada Beach: One Of The Closed Locations To See The Launches - $10.00 Entrance Fee Required
Be Flexible As Launch Dates Change
It is important to keep in mind that launch dates and times frequently change at the last minute due to mechanical issues and weather. Sometimes one will know in advance and at other times it will be announced only at the last minute.
If one would like to keep up to date with what's going on, then follow the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Twitter and Facebook for launch viewing announcements. On can also subscribe to their newsletter.
View the visitor complex's calendar for upcoming launches and viewing opportunities.
While at the Kennedy Space Center, see their range of events and programs. They offer many family-friendly programs like tours of the rockets at the center and interviews and photo-ops with real-life astronauts.