Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Only a tiny portion of the Kennedy Space Center is open to the public. The Visitor Complex holds the bulk of the tourist attractions, and is the starting point for guided bus tours. Note that while a basic guided tour is included in price of admission, several more specialized tours and experiences require reservations and an added fee. Guests with disabilities can call 321 449 4364 (voice) or 321 454 4198 (TDD) to arrange special tours in advance. Strollers, wheelchairs and air-conditioned kennels are offered free of charge. Though there are no longer manned space shuttles launching from Kennedy Space Center, rockets continue, to launch satellites and exploratory missions. See  for the center's launch schedule. 

The surprisingly small Visitor Complex, with several exhibits showcasing the history and future of US space travel and research, is the heart of the Kennedy Space Center. Here you'll find the Rocket Garden , featuring replicas of classic rockets towering over the complex; Space Shuttle Explorer , a shuttle replica that gives a firsthand feel for the cramped spaces astronauts endured; the Nature and Technology museum , with an easily digestible discussion of the local environment and the history of the US space program; and the hour-long Astronaut Encounter , where a real, live astronaut fields questions from the audience. Two delightful IMAX films , offering clear explanations of complicated science and cool footage of gravity free life in space, delight folks of all ages. Astronauts pass tortillas through the air like Frisbees, toss M & amp; Ms to each other and catch bubbles of water when they're thirsty. Space Station 3D , narrated by Tom Cruise, depicts the construction and operations of the International Space Station (ISS), and Leonardo DiCaprio narrates Hubble 3D , featuring truly awesome images captured from the Hubble telescope.

Less impressive is the over-hyped $60-million Shuttle Launch Simulator , a virtual ride developed over three years with the help of astronauts, test pilots and NASA experts. Designed to give the impression of a vertical launch into orbit, this isn't much more fun than a particularly bumpy landing on a commercial jet. Die hard Star Trek fans or folks looking for an escape from the sun may be the only ones who can sit through the silly interactive show Star Trek Live. The stunningly beautiful Astronaut Memorial , a shiny granite wall standing four stories high, reflects both literally and figuratively on the personal and tragic stories behind the cheerleader rhetoric and theme park energy that permeates the space center. Several stone panels display the photos and names of those who died during shuttle disasters, briefly noting the circumstances of their death.

This two-hour bus tour is the only way to see beyond the Visitor Complex without paying for an add-on tour. The first stop is the LC 39 Observation Gantry , a 60ft observation tower with views of the twin launch pads. From here, the bus winds through the launch facilities to the Apollo/Saturn V Center , where you don't want to miss the multimedia show in the Firing Room. Video footage on three screens and a sound-and-light show depict America's first lunar mission, the 1968 launch of Apollo VIII . Finally, check out the astronauts' cramped living spaces at the International Space Station Center . Tours depart every 15 minutes from 10am to 2:45pm. Look for the coach buses and long lines to the right when you enter the Visitor Complex.


The extended Cape Canaveral Then & Now tour includes a visit to the Air Force Space & Missile Museum . The bus tour Discover KSC Today and Tomorrow stops at the massive Vehicle Assembly Building , but note that you stay with the group and on the bus for the entire tour. Great for kids, Lunch with an Astronaut offers a chance to hang out with a real astronaut and find out more about what it's like to shoot into space and live without gravity. The Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) is an action-oriented taste of astronaut training families with kids aged seven to 14 need to sign up for the tamer ATX Family.

No comments:

Post a Comment