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Kennedy Space Center, Orlando

Fast Facts

Location: 45 minutes driving distance from Orlando in Florida
Time to Visit: Throughout the year except 25th December, and certain launch days
Preferred Timings: 9 am to 5:30 pm (Astronaut Hall of Fame remains open till 6:30 pm)
Admission Fee: Adults - $38; Children between 3 and 11 years - $28 [taxes extra]
Annual Pass: Adults - $50; Children (3 to 11 years) - $40 [taxes extra]
How to Reach: By road SR 528 from Orlando International Airport, then road SR 407, followed by road SR 405 From Interstate 95 follow exit 212 if heading north or exit 215 if heading south
Parking: Free
Nearest International Airport: Orlando International Airport
Time required for sightseeing: 1 day

Kennedy Space Center gives you a lifetime opportunity to tour and come close to NASA's rocket launching and landing facilities. Kennedy Space Center in Orlando is the only place where you can see massive rockets, meet astronauts, get trained in spaceflight simulators, tour launch pads, and even be witness to a launch. In a vacation to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida the sky is not the end of limit but only the beginning.

John F. Kennedy Space Center is NASA's (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) launch headquarters and the gateway of America to the universe. In this government operated center at an approximate driving distance of 45 minutes from Orlando more than 10,000 individuals are employed. Apart from being a center of accomplishment and excellence, it is a fascinating place for a day tour for visitors.

Kennedy Space Center Launch Programs

At the Kennedy Space Center you get the opportunity to witness the entire process of preparation of a launch, an earth shattering launch and a jaw-dropping landing. All rockets are launched with the help space shuttles, namely, Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour. Launching of surveillance and communication satellites take place regularly, almost one every month. These launchings are done by using Titan, Delta, and Atlas rockets. In 2003, a historic launch of a rover to Mars was made from here.

The history of launches from Kennedy Space Center dates bank to 1961 when the first rocket 'Radison' was went for a suborbital space flight in Mercury-Redstone 3 mission. In February 1962 NASA's mission Mercury-Atlas 6 took the first American into space to orbit the Earth thrice. Gemini program conducted by NASA between 1962 and 1966 included 19 launches comprising 2 unmanned test missions, 10 crewed missions, and 7 target vehicle launches. The Gemini program was implemented for testing equipments, training of astronauts and ground crew, and mission procedures for future Apollo missions to the moon. Each of these missions lasted for 5 hours to 14 days, the first being launched on 8th April, 1964 and the last on 11th November, 1966.

The Apollo Program extending from 1963 to 1972 was devised and implemented to land humans on the moon and bring them back safely. The first Apollo Lunar Mission, Apollo 8 was launched on 21st December, 1968, and the last, Apollo 17, was launched on 7th December, 1972. Of the 9 Apollo Lunar Missions, Apollo 11 was the most historic. Launched on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin to the moon. History for mankind was created when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon's surface on July 20, 1969. Apollo 11 returned to earth on July 24, 1969.
In addition to Apollo Lunar Missions, NASA also has conducted Apollo Crewed Earth Orbiting Missions, Apollo Saturn Unmanned Earth Orbiting Missions and Apollo Saturn Unmanned Suborbital Flights. As of now, NASA is engaged in setting up an International Space Station 320 km above the earth.

Kennedy Space Center Attractions

It takes at least one day to visit the stupendous Kennedy Space Center. Begin your visit by paying your respects to the deceased astronauts who died for the cause of human achievement and space exploration at the Astronaut Memorial. The names of astronauts who died in the accidents of Space Shuttle Challenger, Space Shuttle Columbia, and Apollo 1 are emblazoned on a black granite monument of width 50 feet and height of 42.5 feet. This Space Mirror Memorial was set up by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation.

After paying your tributes for the fallen astronauts meet members of NASA's Astronaut Corps. Hear real life experiences in space odysseys from the astronauts themselves. Bring your recorder and camera along to capture yourself with these real life achievers. An interaction with them also helps you to understand the intricacies of space journeys and space vehicles. You also get the privilege of having lunch with an astronaut while listening to his space exploits.

Proceed to the Space Shuttle Plaza to view the majestic full-sized Space Shuttle replica of NASA Explorer. Here you not only learn about the technicalities of a shuttle launch, but also how astronauts work and live aboard a spacecraft for days together. You get an insight into the structure of twin rocket boosters and an immense external fuel that are required to launch a shuttle. Briefings on NASA launch and space flights make your visit to the Space Shuttle Plaza informative.

Experience the New Shuttle launch with sensations of sights and sounds of a real space launch. As you enter the six storeys Shuttle Launch Simulation Facility representing an actual space shuttle facility of Kennedy Space Center you are accompanied by crew members and veteran astronauts. At the center of this simulating facility you are given a pre-launch briefing on a shuttle flight before embarking on your virtual space journey. Step-by-step sequence accompanied with brilliant lighting, outstanding sound effects, and life-like visuals makes your virtual journey dramatic and unforgettable.

After staying in the Earth's orbit, escape to Mars from within the comforts of Kennedy Space Center. Professor Pruvitt with his comic mannerisms and accompanied by his nutty colleagues WD-4D and Kevin embark on a 'mad mission to Mars 2025'. Join them as 'astronaut trainees'. Stereoscopic 3D animation, artificial winds, and splatter winds will make your journey to Mars unique. To add more thrill to your visit to this Space Center in Orlando, enjoy space movies screened in two giant IMAX theaters. 5 story screen projection with 3D special effects, footages of actual space missions, with the accompaniment of dramatic sounds transport you into the space. Do not miss 'Space Station 3D' and 'Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D'.

Towards the evening when the outdoor lights are on, take a stroll in the Rocket Garden. Have a glimpse of Atlas, Redstone and Titan rockets that were used in the initial phases of space journeys. Enthrall in the joy of getting aboard Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury capsules. The rockets illuminated in brilliant white and techno-blue lights for the fuselage and orange-red for the engine lends a haunting feeling.

Do not miss out on the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame which is dedicated to renowned astronomers, their memorabilia and actual training simulators. For some time you can become an astronomer by taking up controls in the Astronaut Adventure Room and experience G-force, a blast-off, or a walk on the moon.

Related Links : For a view of the Space Shuttle Endeavor Launch from the Kennedy Space Center, watch this video!

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