Astronaut Training Experience (ATX)

By James | Last updated May 29, 2024

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The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has moved its Astronaut Training Experiences (ATX) from the former home of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame a few miles away to the main Kennedy complex as it switches from the earlier Space Shuttle inspired missions to deep space Mars based missions.

The new ATX building is located in a new space next to the upcoming Mars Rover exhibit and the new entrance to the Kennedy Bus Tours, where the Early Space Exploration and the Angry Birds Space Encounter used to be.

Some longer experiences (as noted below) do not require admission to the main visitor complex and can be accessed from outside the entrance plaza; i.e. you do not need an admission ticket to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in order to participate.

The new ATX features three simulators and a Mars Base Camp 1. Activities last from less than an hour to an entire day.

There are two half to full day experiences:

  • Astronaut Training Experience® — lasts for 5 hours
  • Mars Base 1 — lasts for 7 hours

Five day space camp programmes are also available.

If you do not have time for a full experience, you can take part in two shorter Training Stages:

  • Mars Exploration Simulators — lasts 45 minutes
  • Spacewalk Training — lasts 30 minutes

All guests must be 10 years or older. Guests aged 10 to 17 must be accompanied by a paying participating adult.

Certain experiences have height and/or weight restrictions and all guests must be fluent in English. You should also take note of any health issues particularly in relation to riding in motion simulators.

The ticket does not include admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, that is extra if required.

On each experience, guests work in teams taking it in turns to perform the various activities.

There are two full-motion rover simulators that can even spin guests upside down plus another simulator that mimics a spacewalk as you attempt to perform maintenance tasks on part of the International Space Station.

During the “Walk on Mars” experience, guests use virtual reality headsets and controllers to complete various tasks including collecting rock and soil samples.

Tickets for the first two new ATX missions went on sale in mid January with an official opening on February 6, 2018.

Astronaut Training Experience

The Astronaut Training Experience is a 1/2 day (5 hour) programme where groups of up to 24 guests get to train like real astronauts using authentic NASA science, virtual reality and simulators in four different training simulations.

The experience includes launching, landing and walking on Mars in a full motion simulator, practicing docking, navigating the Martian terrain and a simulated 30 minute spacewalk on the International Space Station in a microgravity environment.

Participants also get to experience the simulated launch of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as a member of the launch control team and the Orion capsule crew.

The activities are team based and last 5 hours.

The costs is $175 plus tax. Available on select Wednesdays and weekend days starting at either 8:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.

A ticket for admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is not required.

Mars Base 1

Mars Base 1 is an all-day (7 hour) experience giving new astronauts the chance to live and work in a simulated Martian environment performing real life science experiments and engineering tasks.

After landing on Mars, guests are divided up into small teams and get the chance to work in an Operations Center, the Mars Engineering Lab and the Mars Life Sciences Lab.

Teams learn to communicate and collaborate aa they work their way through a series of authentic engineering and scientific challenges including managing base operations, harvesting vegetables grown in space and programming robotic vehicles to clear Martian dust off a solar array to maximise energy output.

The costs is $150 plus tax. Available on select Wednesdays and weekends starting at 9:30 a.m.

A ticket for admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is not required.

Mars Exploration Simulator Training Stage

On this mission you train as a pilot or commander to land on Mars and then drive and walk on the Martian surface through the use of both physical and virtual simulators.

The cost is $40 plus tax and you also require an admission ticket to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Spacewalk Training Stage

The spacewalk mission trains you for an Extravehicular Activity spacewalk in a microgravity chair which provides a frictionless environment.

The cost is $30 plus tax and you also require an admission ticket to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Camp Kennedy Space Center

As well as the various ATX experiences described above, there are also week long (five day) summer camps for kids entering grades 2 to 11. The camps are split by grades 2–3, 4–5, 6–7, 8–9 and 10–11 and the activities are graded accordingly.

The camps run from Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for nine weeks from early June to early August. They are held in the same ATX buildings as the other ATX experiences.

The activities include:

  • solving emergencies in the Mars habitat
  • landing and driving on Mars
  • Spacewalk Training using a microgravity simulator
  • virtual reality Mars surface exploration
  • growing and harvesting vegetables in the Botany Lab
  • Mars rover robotic programming
  • engineering builds
  • guided tours of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Prices for the five day camps are $350 plus tax.

All participants also receive daily lunch and snacks, a Camp KSC T-shirt, a graduation ceremony and discounted family admission tickets.

There are also plans for a three day Winter Camp KSC during the school winter holidays.

Safety Restrictions

Due to the nature of some of the experiences, there are some safety restrictions.

  • to ride the Lander/Rover simulator you must be at least 51 inches (1.3 metres) tall
  • to participate in the Spacewalk Training you must be at least 48 inches (1.22 metres) tall and weigh no more than 275 lbs (127 kg)