Launch Viewing Plans for SpaceX-26 and Flight of SSEP Mission 16 ‘Ranger’

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:  November 21, 2022 at 11:19 am ET

This page provides basic logistical information for the SSEP delegations traveling down to the launch of the Mission 16 to ISS Ranger experiments payload aboard SpaceX CRS-26, currently scheduled for liftoff on November 22, 2022 at 3:54 pm ET, from Space Launch Complex 39A (SLC-39A), NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Currently, we have 170 attending (33 SSEP Student Researchers, 5 Mission Patch designers, 21 teachers/administrators, 90 family members, and 21 other stakeholders) from 13 communities: Ukraine; Coquitlam, BC, Canada; Hillsborough County, FL; Ocala, FL; Lake Charles, LA; Grand Blanc, MI; Hoboken, NJ; Buffalo/Niagara, NY; Garden City, NY; Norwood, NY; Pickerington OH; and Ector County TX.

Please note that the deadline for providing final attendees numbers is Friday, November 11, 2022 by 4:00 pm ET. After this time, the delegation will be locked and new attendees will not be able to be added and therefore, will not receive the complimentary admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

GENERAL CONTACT: for general questions, please contact SSEP 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 $75 adult/$65 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. 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!

c. 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-26

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

On the day of the launch, November 22, 2022, the SSEP delegation will meet at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) at 8:15 am. The KSCVC has graciously offered to provide complimentary admission to all SSEP delegation members.

Schedule for November 22, 2022:

8:15 am – SSEP delegates meet at the flagpoles near the entrance of the Visitor Complex where they will receive their admission tickets and SSEP badges (all guests will be required to pay the $10 parking fee)

9:00 am – enter the Visitor Complex

9:30 am – The first bus departs for the VIP launch viewing site. Expect to be at the VIP site for the entire day, until launch at 3:54 pm. There are plenty of things to see at the VIP site, which is the location of the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

Please note that your delegation DOES NOT have to go to the bus line at 9:00 am, and can opt instead to explore the Visitor Complex, which is a large facility with lots to see, including an IMAX theater (see link to Map below). But by doing so the VIP site may reach capacity and you will have to view the launch from the Visitor Complex. We mention this option given the schedule above has SSEP attendees at the VIP site the entire day, and the Visitor Complex will close by the time the buses return. Visitor Complex Map

3:54 pm – LAUNCH!

TBD pm – load buses to return to KSC Visitor Complex (park closes at 5:00 pm)

The complimentary admission provided to the SSEP delegation is for one day only. If the launch is scrubbed after the SSEP delegation has entered the KSCVC, the complimentary tickets have been used. If anyone from the SSEP delegation wishes to view the launch from the KSCVC for the next launch opportunity (11/26/22) they will have to purchase admission tickets at full price. If the launch is scrubbed prior to the SSEP delegation entering the KSCVC, the tickets MAY be re-issued for the next launch attempt (this is still to be determined).

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

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

[most likely November 18-20 2022] 

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.

[November 21, 2022] Launch-1 Day

[November 22, 2022] 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.