Launch Viewing Plans for SpaceX-15 and Flight of SSEP Mission 12 ‘Mercury’

IMPORTANT NOTES
All NEWLY updated information is in GREEN TEXT below.
Information still to be determined is in RED TEXT below.
Dates and times that are subject to change at NASA’s discretion are in PURPLE TEXT below.

Last update of this page:  June 18, 2018 at 1:20 pm EDT

 

Launch planning is based on the currently scheduled liftoff of
SpaceX CRS-15:
 June 29, 2018 at 5:41 am EDT
(see
NASA Consolidated Launch Schedule)

This page provides logistical information for the SSEP delegations traveling down to the launch of the Mission 12 to ISS Mercury experiments payload aboard SpaceX CRS-15, currently scheduled for liftoff at June 29, 2018 at 5:41 am EDT, from Space Launch Complex 39A (SLC-39), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Currently, we have 228 attending (55 SSEP Student Researchers, 47 teachers/administrators, 125 family members, and 1 other stakeholder) from 12 communities:

Dress code: all delegates are advised that dress code is business casual, e.g., slacks, shirt with collar (no T-shirts or sneakers).

GENERAL CONTACT: for general questions about activities prior to the launch, please contact SSEP Assistant Flight Operations Manager John Hamel at johnhamel@ncesse.org or call 434-882-5177.   John Hamel will also be on site to coordinate the SSEP delegation at the launch of SpaceX CRS-15. If you have any questions or need additional guidance once in Florida, please contact John, cell: 434-882-5177 or via email: johnhamel@ncesse.org.

DOWNLOAD MAP of Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex


A. Basic Travel Information

1. Airline and Airport

Where should folks fly in? NASA recommends to their guests that they fly into Orlando given it is serviced by multiple carriers. You can certainly try flying in to Melbourne, which is closer, but flights are far more limited.

However, we strongly advise you to use Southwest, which only flies into Orlando. Here is why—

Everyone traveling to Florida needs to be aware that you’re planning a trip—with significant expense—to see a historic event that may not happen on the date it is scheduled. You may book travel and then find a day later that the launch is postponed. Or … everything is going just fine, you get to Florida and then you find the launch is delayed (“scrubbed”) to a date after your scheduled departure, and you’d like to stay a few more days in the hope of seeing the launch. The main problem is airfare. For most carriers, if you book at their cheap, non-refundable rate, and you need to make a change, you’ll pay a significant change fee per ticket (typically $150) AND you’ll need to pay the difference between the fare you already paid and the new fare. The new fare could be $1,000 or more higher than your original purchase price given most carriers dramatically increase the cost of a ticket as you get closer to the travel date. With the change fee, you might be looking at a $1,200 per ticket added cost—on top of the original price you paid! But that is not the case with Southwest—

If you book on line, Southwest offers Wanna Get Away non-refundable fares which are very reasonable. If you need to change your flight, there is no change fee, and you can try to get another cheap Wanna Get Away far if they are still available. If not, you can get their refundable Anytime fare, which is still reasonable and likely the highest price fare you’d need to get. The Anytime fare for the same flight does not change as you get closer to the travel date. For a flight change you pay the price difference between the fares. That means you know right now what the likely worst potential added cost of a change would be. Also, the Anytime fare is refundable. So if you end up making a flight change from a Wanna Get Away to an Anytime ticket, but then end up not going to Florida (say the launch is delayed yet again to a date you cannot attend), you can get reimbursed for the difference between the Wanna Get Away fare and the Anytime fare.

You cannot beat Soutwest’s fare structure if you need to build into your thinking that the launch can slip—and you DO need to build that into your thinking.


2. General Information – KSC Visitor Complex

The KSCVC provides access to a number of attractions, including: the Shuttle Launch Experience (a launch simulation), IMAX films, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame (including interactive spaceflight simulators), the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the Kennedy Space Center Tour, and the newly arrived, retired Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Take the KSCVC Virtual Tour

Here is general visitor information for the KSCVC:

General admission is $50 adult/$40 child (ages 3-11) plus tax

You can add behind-the-scenes tours, KSC Up-Close Launch Control Center Tour, KSC Up-Close Cape Canaveral: Then & Now Tour and KSC Up-Close Explore Tour. The added cost of a behind-the-scenes tour is $25 adult/$19 child (ages 3-11) plus tax.

Important notes:
a. You must pay KSCVC general admission even if you only want to take a behind-the-scenes tour.

b. General admission tickets include a second day free for use at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, if used within seven days.

c. Behind-the-scenes tours can book up well in advance of your trip, particularly when close to a launch day, so reserve a tour in advance of your trip!

d. To book reservations for general admission and a behind-the-scenes tour call 888-737-5235.


3. Hotels

We have identified a number of hotels in the area. When booking a hotel, make sure to find out what happens to your commitment of payment if the launch date slips before you arrive in Florida.

Jump to the Hotels page.

 

B. The SSEP Launch Plan for SpaceX CRS-15

1. Key Thinking for Planning

Fly in as late as possible before the launch so that if the launch is delayed by just one or two days, there is still an opportunity to see the launch if folks can schedule to be in Florida for a few days. However, we strongly advise you NOT to fly in the day of the launch, which will likely cause you to miss it due to flight delays or traffic. In addition, for a morning launch, there is no ability for you to fly in on the same day and get to NASA Kennedy on time. The recommendation is therefore to fly in the day before launch, and extend your stay until at least the day after launch.

2. Viewing the Launch

On the day prior to the launch, June 28, 2018, the SSEP delegation will meet at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC).  All SSEP delegation members will be provided complimentary admission to the KSCVC.

The Flight Teams have been offered the very special opportunity to present a poster about their flight experiments for the general public.  The flight teams should arrive with their posters ready to present.  We request that each team use a 36″ x 48″ poster board. The same size foam presentation boards with clips for mounting the posters will be provided upon arrival.   The KSC Visitor Complex will supply easels for the teams to display their posters.

Prior to and after the presentations, the delegation will have time to explore the KSC Visitor Complex.

Schedule for June 28, 2018:

8:30 am – SSEP delegates meet at the flagpoles near the entrance of the Visitor Complex where they will receive their admission tickets and SSEP badges (parking vouchers will be provided)

9:00-9:15 am – enter the Visitor Complex

9:15 am – 6:00 pm – When teams are not scheduled for the poster session, they have free time to explore the Visitor Center Complex

10:00 am – 12:00 pm – Poster Session 1 at the Atlantis Center. SSEP teams presenting: Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Hillsborough County, Florida and Port St. Lucie, Florida

1:00-3:00 pm – Poster Session 2 at the Atlantis Center. SSEP teams presenting: Honolulu, Hawaii; Galloway, New Jersey – Stockton University; Knox County, Tennessee; Brazosport, Texas and Pharr, Texas

Schedule for June 29, 2018:

4:00 am – SSEP delegates meet at the flagpoles near the entrance of the Visitor Complex (DO NOT BE LATE)

4:30 am – load buses to go to the Banana Creek Launch Viewing area

5:41 am – LAUNCH!

TBD – load buses to return to KSC Visitor Complex

3. FAQs

How far is the launch pad from Banana Creek?
The Banana Creek viewing site is approximately 3.5 miles from the launch pad.

Is Banana Creek the view we’re used to seeing on TV, where you see the big Countdown Clock is in the foreground?
No, that is the Kennedy Press Site, which is 4 miles from the pad.

4. Current Schedule

[June 27, 2018] Launch minus 2 Days

SSEP community attendees fly in

Note: if you live in parts of the nation where air travel to Florida takes significant time, you should not take a chance on flying in on the day of the scheduled launch for fear of missing the launch due to flight delays, waiting at the car rental location at the airport, or travel time from the airport in possibly significant traffic.

[June 28, 2018] Launch Day minus 1 day

Please see the schedule above.

[June 29, 2018] Launch Day

Please see the schedule above.

 

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.