NASA Kennedy Space Center
By James | Last updated December 6, 2023
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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.
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.
These days depending upon the time of the launch, rocket launch viewing opportunities may be available from within the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Sometimes you may need to buy a special launch viewing ticket.
However it is possible to watch a launch from the nearby areas or.
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 Hollywood 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 3D IMAX films can be seen at the IMAX cinemas; and they change on a regular basis. The first film is “A Beautiful Planet 3D” narrated by Jennifer Lawrence. It shows views of planet Earth from the international Space Station and the daily life of the astronauts on board.
The second film is “Journey to Space 3D” narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart and shows NASA’s past, present and future space plans.
Astronaut Training Experience (ATX)
As part of the upgrading of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the Astronaut Training Experiences are moving from next to the old US Astronaut Hall of Fame to be inside the main Visitor Complex.
Heroes and Legends
The US Astronaut Hall of Fame closed on November 2, 2015 and re-opened 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.
In the Astronaut Hall of Fame you used to 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 was a full sized Space Shuttle Replica named “Inspiration”.
You could 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.
The new attraction is more interactive and includes a 3-D omni-directional theatre which gives guests the illusion of floating in space.