Launch Viewing Plans for SpaceX-21 and Flight of SSEP Mission 14 ‘Apollo’

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:  December 2, 2020 at 10:05 am ET


Launch planning is based on the currently scheduled liftoff for SpaceX-21
December 5, 2020 at 11:39 a.m. ET
(see NASA Consolidated Launch Schedule)

For each SSEP Mission, the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) posts a ‘Launch Viewing Plans’ page to assist all SSEP community delegations traveling to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to watch the launch. The purpose of the page is to provide: i) basic information for travel planning, ii) an itinerary of any special activities planned in concert with the KSC Visitor Complex, and iii) the launch schedule. For each launch, NCESSE sends staff to serve as liaisons to the community delegations, serve as hosts, and coordinate all logistics on site.


Due to the current health crisis and the exponential growth in COVID-19 infections across the nation, NCESSE is not authorizing any staff travel to support launch activities and not encouraging any travel by SSEP delegations. In addition, KSC is not providing a VIP launch viewing site on Center, and the Visitor Complex is not providing any special activities for SSEP delegations. We are all saddened by the current situation. Unfortunately any community delegations that decide to go to the launch are on their own. Delegations will need to view the launch from a public viewing site. To assist, we’ve provided a list of such sites in Section B.2 below. 

As part of any SSEP launch, we invite SSEP communities to watch the launch live on NASA TV and at SpaceX. For each mission a Blog Post is put up at this website with all the remote launch viewing information, and video portals for both NASA TV and SpaceX. Given the current situation we are working on an enhanced, live remote viewing experience with presentations by SSEP National Program Director, Dr. Jeff Goldstein, and Astronaut Dr. Don Thomas. Please watch for this Post on the SSEP National Blog


We know of  a number of Mission 14 delegations traveling to the launch at Kennedy. Current Delegate Status: 61 attending (9 SSEP Student Researchers, 10 teachers/administrators, 40 family members, and 2 other stakeholders) from 5 communities.

Under normal circumstances the KSC Visitor Complex offers a remarkable visitor experience, See Section A.2 below. As of this writing, the Visitor Complex is open to the public, though currently operating under Covid-19 restrictions. Delegates should visit the Visitor Complex website up through launch to ensure that there are no new operations changes at the Complex due to Covid-19. 


This page provides basic logistical information for the SSEP delegations traveling down to the launch of the Mission 14 to ISS Apollo experiments payload aboard SpaceX CRS-21, currently scheduled for liftoff on December 5, 2020 at 11:39 a.m. ET, from Space Launch Complex 39A (SLC-39A), NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

GENERAL CONTACT: for general questions, please contact SSEP Assistant Flight Operations Manager John Hamel at or call 434-882-5177.

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 – Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC)

The KSCVC is currently open and has implemented new health and safety procedures. To view the new policies, please visit the Trusted Space page on the KSCVC web site.

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.

DOWNLOAD MAP of Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Here is general visitor information for the KSCVC:

General admission is $57 adult/$47 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.

NOTE: behind-the-scenes tours are currently unavailable. Due to Covid-19, no tour buses are operating.

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-21

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 in Person

Due to the current health crisis, the only viewing sites set up for the public at the Visitor Complex are the bleachers placed on the lawn in front of the building housing Space Shuttle Atlantis. Access will be first come first served and expect Covid-19 required social distancing restrictions. There are multiple excellent public viewing locations in Titusville, Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. We have put together a list of theses sites.
Download: Public Viewing Sites

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.