I've been wondering how close other people are to large rockets when they launch. launch complexes looks huge; are there people near the launch pad during a launch?

If yes, how do they handle the risk of a failing/exploding rocket during the launch. If not, typically how close are the nearest humans?

For manned rockets this is of course besides any astronauts inside the rocket itself.

  • $\begingroup$ Related: space.stackexchange.com/questions/27578/… $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Jun 22, 2018 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for that link! That question handles manned rockets. Does anyone know if that answer is also valid for unmanned rockets? (Like the current Falcons for example) $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2018 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ What is a large rocket? Large enough to deliver payload to Low Earth Orbit? $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Jun 22, 2018 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I guess. I thought about Falcon (Heavy) and the Ariane rockets. $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2018 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelPittino: Since you are explicitly excluding the people sitting on top of the rocket, I think it is likely that there will be no other differences between manned and unmanned spaceflight. From a ground personnel standpoint, it makes no difference whether there is a piece of electronics, or a bag of 70% water sitting on top. $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2018 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


For many launches, the closest humans are actually in an underground bunker underneath the rocket. See this image from SpaceX's Falcon 9 user's guide. Note that the "Pad Customer room" is basically right under the launch pad. I believe other pads have similiar rooms, although I'm not certain. Technicians will sit in these bunkers to keep an eye of the health of the satellites, and they can do some functions from there. They will also disconnect the battery to stop the charging as a part of the sequence.

The way it is managed is via digging it underground, solid bunker doors, and other similar effects.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have any evidence that the "pad customer room" is staffed during a launch? Note that pad operations typically consist of launch preparations. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2020 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ Only a half-remembered conversation I once had with someone. But I could be remembering it wrongly... Hmmm... $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Sep 5, 2020 at 18:09

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