Kennedy Space Center brings back LC-39A gantry viewing for the first time since the pandemic began – available for Boeing’s OFT-2

You might be familiar with the LC-39A Observation Gantry if you’re an avid launch viewer. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began back in 2020, the visitor complex is offering tickets to view a rocket launch from there.

View a rocket launch from just 2.3 miles away

Praised by our own Daryl Sausse’ as “better than press,” the LC-39A Observation Gantry sits along NASA’s Crawler Way between SpaceX’s LC-39A and the Vehicle Assembly Building. This unique viewing spot gives you an elevated view of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station launch pads that is like no other.

Bringing you less than 2.3 miles from SLC-41, where United Launch Alliance‘s Atlas V rocket launches, it’s the closest you can get to a rocket launch publicly. The viewing is handled through Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, operated by Delaware North. So if you are interested, you can buy tickets through the visitor complex’s website for $49.

View of SLC-37 from the LC-39A Observation Gantry (telephoto lens) Credit: Daryl Sausse’

First viewing available for Boeing’s OFT-2 mission

Scheduled for May 19, Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test is undergoing final preparations before launching and will be the first Observation Gantry viewing opportunity since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Observation Gantry tickets usually go quick so if you are interested, make sure to nab them as soon as possible.

Currently, Boeing and ULA are working on mating the Starliner spacecraft to the Atlas V rocket. ULA uses a unique variation of the Atlas V to launch Boeing’s Starliner, the N22. Decoding this would give you N for “no fairing size,” 2 for the number of solid rocket motors, and another 2 for the number of engines on the Centaur upper stage. Usually, this last number is only one, but two engines are needed due to Atlas’s special ascent path for crewed launches and redundancy.

A long and troublesome road for OFT-2 to even get here

This is the second time Boeing has begun preparations for launching the second flight test of its Starliner spacecraft. After the first OFT suffered from several failures and needed to end its mission early, a second test was planned for 2020. However, that test eventually was pushed back to 2021, where it was then scrubbed for valve failures in Starliner’s service module.

Almost a year later, we are in the same spot as last time, preparing to launch the OFT-2 mission to certify Starliner for its Crewed Flight Test, hopefully later this year.

Get those LC-39A Observation Gantry tickets while you still can

As we mentioned earlier, the launch viewing tickets for the LC-39A Observation Gantry go quick. So make sure to grab them quickly if you plan to go and bring a camera. The photos you can get from that location are fantastic if the weather allows you to be there.

To be able to view at LC-39A Observation Gantry, you need both a launch viewing ticket and pay for admission to the visitor complex. So you will need to buy the $49 viewing ticket along with either a daily admission ($57), a multiday pass ($82), or an annual pass ($96). Of course, always plan for the launch date to move up to the last second of the countdown. Also, make sure you understand KSCVC’s scrub policy.

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