AAA Editor Notes
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is 11 mi. e. of I-95 on SR 405. Built in 1967, the modern facility explores the past, present and future of the U.S. space program. The orbiter Atlantis, which flew the last space shuttle mission in July 2011, is at the heart of the center's Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. Atlantis bears the scars of its 33 missions and sits at a 43-degree angle with its cargo bay doors open, allowing spectators to walk around the massive spacecraft and gaze at almost every square inch.
Space Shuttle Atlantis also features more than 60 interactive exhibits, including simulators and cinematic presentations, that explore the 30-year history of the space shuttle program; replicas of the Hubble space telescope and International Space Station modules are highlights. Guests can also become “crew members” on the Shuttle Launch Experience, vertically launching into space and orbiting earth aboard NASA's space shuttle.
The complex also features more multimedia displays and hands-on exhibits, 3-D theater, spacecraft and artifacts, face-to-face encounters with astronauts and behind-the-scenes tours. In the Rocket Garden, space equipment traces the program's development. Admission to the complex includes a behind-the-scenes bus tour of NASA's launch facilities, offering views of the shuttle and rocket launch pads. At the Apollo/Saturn V Center, visitors can walk beneath the 363-foot Saturn V rocket and watch footage of Neil Armstrong's history-making walk on the moon. The Firing Room Theater simulates an earth-shaking Apollo 8 rocket launch.
Question-and-answer sessions and personal stories are part of Astronaut Encounter, which brings guests face-to-face with men and women who have launched into space. The exhibit Forever Remembered showcases two sections of fuselage from the shuttles Columbia and Challenger as well as personal memorabilia of the astronauts who lost their lives in these tragedies.
Special-interest programs also are available for an additional fee: Lunch with an Astronaut enables visitors to share a meal with a space explorer, and Cape Canaveral: The Then and Now Tour chronicles the space program from the early days to the present. Heroes and Legends Featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, opening in late 2016, features simulated holograms, high-tech elements and special effects to tell the story of pioneering astronauts and the dangers of earlier missions. The 3-D theater makes visitors feel like they are floating in space.
Note: Cape Canaveral: The Then and Now Tour is temporarily closed; phone ahead for updates. Food and free pet kennels are available. Allow 5 hours minimum to see the visitor complex and take the KSC bus tour. Arrive early to avoid crowds.
Guided tours are available. Food is available.