After more than two months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex reopened its doors to guests Thursday morning, but it’s already sold out for Saturday due to SpaceX’s historic launch scheduled to take place that day.
The launch, which will send NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center pad 39A, was scheduled for Wednesday but was forced to scrub due to weather.
Now, teams are looking to launch at 3:22 p.m. Saturday, marking the first time humans are launched to space from U.S. soil since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011. If the launch is forced to scrub that day, another backup window is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday.
“We will have launch viewing here at the complex, so there will be bleachers set up in two locations,” Chief Operating Officer Therrin Protze told reporters Thursday. “We’re sold out on Saturday already, so I highly recommend that if it does slip to Sunday to try to jump on and get your tickets. We were sold out in probably less than an hour once the launch scrubbed yesterday.”
The center is limited to 50% capacity because of the coronavirus.
The visitor complex usually provides special launch viewing opportunities at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. However, since the bus tours and the Apollo/Saturn V Center are closed at the moment in order to ensure proper social distancing, those viewing opportunities will not be available for this launch or in the near future.
Other attractions that are still closed include the Imax theater, the Astronaut Training Experience and some shops and restaurants.
Instead, for Saturday’s launch, guests can watch the historic moment at the bleachers located next to the Space Shuttle Atlantis facility or other places across the complex.
“We are maintaining the 50% capacity level dictated by the governor … So we’re making sure we’re sticking within those guidelines, but obviously we have enough staff to make sure that social guidances and social distancing are being followed, as well as sanitation efforts are being highly scrutinized and making sure we’re pumping our efforts in those areas,” Protze said.
In order to comply with the local government and CDC guidelines, the visitor complex is requiring all guests and employees to wear masks as well as have temperature screenings when entering the complex. The park will be operating at 50% capacity and will also limit operating hours to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It used to be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There is also signage located throughout the complex signaling to maintain 6-feet separation, as well as hand sanitizing stations located in various areas.
Due to limited attractions being open, the visitor complex is reducing price admission to $30 per person — ticket cost was originally $57 — with a complimentary ticket that can be used in 2021 to enjoy the park’s full experience.
Holly MacMillan and her three children, Kate, 14, Chase, 12, and Lucy, 7, were the first guests to enter the complex Thursday morning, which already had a packed line of cars waiting to enter by 10:30 a.m.
Coming from Athens, Georgia, the MacMillans drove down to view SpaceX’s launch and to get out of the house after being cooped up for so long, as well as getting the opportunity to celebrate Lucy’s birthday. She turns 8 Sunday.
“The kids had not had a chance to see this before and I haven’t seen it and so we wanted to take the chance while we were down here for the rocket launch to come and see the different exhibits,” Holly MacMillan said.
She and her children will come back to the park on Saturday to watch SpaceX’s launch.
“We’re excited to be here and learn new things and get to come again on Saturday,” MacMillan said.
© 2020 The Palm Beach Post
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.