NASA Kennedy Space Center
The NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is situated on the east coast between Cocoa Beach and Titusville and has been home to America’s space programme since 1949.
The site covers an area of 190 square miles (500 sq km), part of which is open to the public.
When planning your visit to the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, allow a whole day particularly if you plan on taking any of the bus tours
The NASA Kennedy Space Center is home to America’s manned space program and it was from here that the Apollo missions were launched on their journey to the Moon. We have details of past, present and future launch schedules.
At one time it did not cost anything to just visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex but now you have to purchase a ticket to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the nearby to US Astronaut Hall of Fame.
However most of the attractions are now included in the price whereas before you paid for them separately.
US Astronaut Hall of Fame
In the Astronaut Hall of Fame you get the chance to see a number of rare exhibits including Wally Schirra’s Sigma 7 Mercury spacecraft and the Apollo 14 Command Module as well as personal memorabilia and realistic astronaut training simulators. Outside is a full sized Space Shuttle Replica named “Inspiration”.
You can also experience a G-Force Trainer that lets you feel the pressure of four times the force of gravity. Feel what it’s like to walk on the moon or ride a rover across the rocky Martian terrain, then carefully guide the Space Shuttle to a smooth landing.
NOTE: The US Astronaut Hall of Fame is closing on November 2, 2015 and will re-open as part of a new Heroes and Legends attraction at the main Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in late 2016, next to the Rocket Garden in the former Early Space Exploration building.
The new attraction will be more interactive and include a 3-D omni-directional theatre which will give guests the illusion of floating in space.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Spaceport USA houses the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with two IMAX® cinemas, the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the very moving Astronaut Memorial, the new “Shuttle Launch Experience” simulator ride (opened in May 2007) and a rocket garden.
A bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center is included in the price of the admission ticket but there are other guided bus tours that you can go on but it is advisable to buy your tickets in advance as there is limited availability.
Shuttle Launch Experience
On May 25, 2007, the long awaiting $60 million “Shuttle Launch Experience” which simulates a space shuttle ride, opened at the Kennedy Space Center.
The ride lets you experience the sights, sounds and excitement of a vertical launch of a Space Shuttle in a simulator a bit like the Star Tours simulator at Disney’s MGM Studios.
Near the main complex is a sombre memorial to those astronauts who have died during the space programme including the crews of the Challenger and Columbia Space shuttles.
Over 20 million people have visited this memorial since it was dedicated in May 1991.
The Space Mirror was constructed by the Astronaut Memorial Foundation and funded through Florida residents who purchased special commemorative Challenger car license plates.
Less than 500 men and women out of total world population of more than 6 billion have been into space. During the daily briefings there is an opportunity to meet one of NASA’s astronauts.
Space Shuttle Plaza
On the plaza is a full size replica of a space shuttle fuel tank and the solid booster rockets.
The rocket garden has recently been redeveloped and contains a number of rockets including Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA Astronauts in space. You can also climb into examples of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules which will give you an idea of how cramped these early space craft were.
Two films can be seen at the IMAX cinemas; “The Dream is Alive”, narrated by Walter Cronkite and filmed by space shuttle astronauts, it captures the amazing beauty of living and working in space and a new 3D film “Space Station 3D” narrated by Tom Cruise showing the astronauts and cosmonauts constructing the International Space Station 200 miles above Earth.