Launch Viewing Plans for SpaceX-7, Summer 2015

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 25, 2015 at 3:30 pm ET


Launch planning is based on the currently scheduled liftoff of
SpaceX CRS-7:
 Sunday, June 28, 2015, 10:21 am EDT
NASA Consolidated Launch Schedule)


SSEP Student Researchers that conducted a briefing for the launch of Mission 6 Yankee Clipper on the ill-fated Orb-3 vehicle, October 27, 2014, Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia. CLICK FOR ZOOM

This page provides logistical information for the SSEP delegations traveling down to the launch of the Mission 7 to ISS Odyssey experiments payload aboard SpaceX CRS-7, currently scheduled for liftoff at 11:09 am EDT, June 26, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

SSEP delegations will be watching the launch from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) (download a map), and we are excited to report NASA has requested that on launch day the SSEP Student Researcher delegates conduct two 1-hour Public Briefings on the flight experiments. KSCVC is also working on a VIP tour of KSC on the day after launch.

For the Launch Plan detailed below (June 27-30) we have currently 124 attending (30 SSEP Student Researchers, 14 teachers/administrators, 68 family members, and 12 other stakeholders) from 9 communities: La Verne, California; Hartford, Connecticut; Bear, Delaware; Hillsborough County, Florida; Johnson County, Nebraska; Somerset, New Jersey; Erie, Pennsylvania; Knox County, Tennessee; and North Charleston, South Carolina.

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 at the launch site, please contact SSEP Assistant Flight Operations Manager John Hamel at or call 434-882-5177

ONSITE CONTACT IN FLORIDA: SSEP Program Director, Dr. Jeff Goldstein will be leading the SSEP delegations at the launch of SpaceX CRS-7. If you have any questions or need additional guidance once down in Florida, please contact Dr. Goldstein cell: 301-395-0770 or via email:

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

We are already working with the KSCVC and have secured free parking passes and free admission tickets for SSEP delegates for both launch day and the day after launch. We are also working with the KSCVC to secure a VIP tour of KSC on the day after launch. That, said, for completeness, 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-7 (June 27-30, 2015)

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. Gathering Location

On launch day, all SSEP students, teachers, administrators, and family members will meet at 8:15 am at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, just outside the entry turnstiles at the flagpole. NCESSE will provide KSCVC admission tickets, and SSEP badges. We will then walk as a group into the Visitor Complex and proceed to the Astronaut Encounter Theater where we will conduct a pre-briefing with the SSEP Student Researchers in preparation for the 9:00 am SSEP Public Briefing. 

3. Schedule

[Saturday, June 27] Launch minus 1 Day

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.

[Sunday, June 28] Launch Day at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC)

BY 8:15 am SSEP delegations meet at flagpole near entrance turnstiles at KSCVC; receive badges and entry tickets, ARRIVE ON TIME

8:30-9:00 am walk to Astronaut Encounter Theater; conduct pre-briefing with Student Researchers in advance of 9:00 SSEP Public Briefing

9:00-9:30 am SSEP Student Researchers conduct a ‘teaser’ SSEP Public Briefing at the KSCVC

11:09 am Launch of SpaceX CRS-7 from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40)

12:00-1:00 pm SSEP Student Researchers conduct full 1-hour SSEP Public Briefing

after 1:00 pm SSEP delegates are free to explore the KSCVC  

[Monday, June 29]  Launch + 1 Day

10:43 am Backup Launch Time in case of a 24-hour Scrub on June 26 

1:45 pm All SSEP delegates taking part in the tour will meet at Parking Lot 1; after entering the KSCVC, ask at the security desk for directions to Parking Lot 1, ARRIVE ON TIME

2:00 – 4:30 pm KSC VIP Tour

SSEP delegates are free to explore the KSCVC

[Tuesday, June 30] Optional Day: Launch + 2 Days  

Possibly a day for a new launch attempt if launch was scrubbed two days earlier (the case of a 48-hour scrub) 


C. Guidance to Student Researchers for the Briefings to the Public

It is a remarkable honor that NASA is inviting SSEP Researchers to conduct two Public Briefings on their research bound for ISS.

During the SSEP Public Briefings, each of the nine flight teams will be able to do an oral presentation where the total presentation time for an entire team shall be no more than 4 minutes, followed by at most 1 minute Q&A from the audience. NOTE: there will be no power points or AV other than mics.

Current plan for 1-hour presentation
10 minutes: Overview of SSEP by Dr. Jeff Goldstein
45 minutes: Oral Presentations by nine flight teams (5 minutes x 9 teams)
5 minutes: extra time

Some important guidance for putting together your presentation: The presentation should include: the experiment title, an introduction to the team, the school, and the community; and should provide for an understanding of the experimental question to be addressed, how the experiment is designed to address that question, and how the experiment is conducted in the mini-lab. The presentation should also weave in some of these topics: what led the team to this experiment, what was it like to go through a real science competition across your community, what does it feels like to have a real microgravity experiment going to ISS on SpaceX CRS-7? You also should thank key sponsors and individuals as you see fit, noting that this could soak up lots of time so do this sparingly.

The presentation should flow as a story, told by all team members in turn. This can indeed be done in 4 minutes if student researchers tune the presentation in advance, and do multiple dry runs in advance. Going over 4 minutes can mean that another team does not present, or the audience does not have a chance to ask questions.

In general, the oral presentation should not seem scripted, it should seem as off-the-cuff as possible. Like you are telling a story to a friend. Team members should not read from a paper, and the presentation should not appear as if team members memorized a script and are ‘reading’ it back from memory word-for-word to the audience.

One approach to developing a presentation is to create an outline of the story elements – the chapters of the story you want to tell. Then write a few sentences for each chapter that capture in a concise way what you are trying to say. Assign different chapters to the team members, and have the entire team practice telling the story until it flows, and until it fits within the 4 minutes. If you have extra time, you can address additional points. If you are over 4 minutes, you can see if some more practice, or tightening the wording, or removing a section can get you to the 4-minute maximum.

Additional important considerations:
a) We would like to stress that each team MUST do multiple dry runs in advance of the briefing to ensure story flow, and that it can be done in 4 minutes.
b) Only SSEP Student Researchers will be presenting; no teachers, administrators, or parents will be presenting.
c) There is no AV available for the presentation, so there is no means to do e.g. a powerpoint.
d) A presentation with multiple presenters should allow for equitable distribution of the 4 minutes across all presenters.

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.