If you have not visited the Kennedy Space Center since you've been a starry-eyed youngster, it's worth a return. 1.5 million tourists arrive each year, making the Center one of Florida's most visited tourist attractions. The Center is just coming off the heels of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. To mark this milestone, it recently opened a Moon Garden that includes 12 trees grown from seeds that orbited the moon during that pioneering mission.
The Center was formed by the Kennedy Administration on nearly 200 square miles of land that was once known as the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was designed with the power of thousands of engineers and military personnel to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s lofty 1961 goal for the nation to complete a lunar landing by 1970. Construction of the massive center began in November 1962 and included some of the world’s largest buildings required to build rockets and house launch pads. Kennedy visited the site twice that year and again just a week before his assassination in November 1963.
In 1995 a new company began to manage the aging 70-acre visitor complex to redevelop and enhance the exhibits to excite a whole new generation of children about space. From the Shuttle Launch Experience, astronaut encounters to larger-than-life IMAX® films, live shows, hands-on activities and behind-the-scenes tours, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers guests an educational, entertaining and comprehensive space program experience. As a visitor, you can learn about the Apollo, SkyLab, and Space Shuttle eras of space exploration.
If you are truly a space enthusiast, there can be nothing more awe-filling than witnessing a live rocket launch. You must plan your visit in advance to time it with the next scheduled launch. You will be driven from the main visitor center to a viewing area a few miles from the launch pads to see and feel the liftoff of spacecraft as they leave Earth under the full power of mighty rocket engines. You can find launch viewing announcements on the Kennedy Space Center Facebook and Twitter account. The cost is $49 in addition to daily admission and visitors are transported by bus from inside the main visitor complex to special viewing areas. TIP: Tickets for launch viewing sell out quickly as there is a limited amount available. Check out the website or follow the Space Center on Twitter so you do not miss when launch tickets go on sale.
Be a part of the next generation of space explorers that prepare for deep space travel in the all-new Astronaut Training Experience® Center Exploring with Lockheed Martin, the newest attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Astronaut Training Experience (ATX), along with the companion program Mars Base 1, will bring you as close to training, living and working on the Red Planet as possible without ever leaving Earth. In the all-new Astronaut Training Experience®, train like the next generation of space explorers who will travel to Mars. Practice your docking skills, navigate the unique Mars terrain and experience the sensation of performing a spacewalk in a microgravity environment. Using exciting and immersive simulation technology, you and your team will work together to solve real-world problems using authentic NASA science. Times: 4-5 hour program, beginning at 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM Trainees: Individuals or groups, ages 10 and older. Trainees that are ages 10 - 17 will require a paying, participating adult. Price: $175 (plus tax)
Whether you are traveling with adults only or are bringing excited children in tow, the Center has great recommendations on how to enjoy your stay depending on your time constraints.