I once read a review of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex that said, “Don’t go there. Everything is old.” What??? How ignorant is that! Of course everything is old. These things are a part of history. That’s like saying, don’t ever go to a museum because everything there is old. Sometimes I don’t know what people are thinking.
Kennedy Space Center is very much worth seeing. And even if you don’t aspire to be an astronaut, astronomer, or rocket scientist, you can still learn a lot and have a great time there.
Since there is so much to see and do at the Kennedy Space Center, I’m going to split this post into two parts. This first one is about the main Visitor Complex itself and part two will be about the Close-Up tour.
Start off by following the historical path of space exploration through the Rocket Garden and into the Early Space Exploration building. There you can see the actual Mercury Mission control panels, Neil Armstrong’s space suit and other space artifacts.
In 9th grade I had to write a paper on what I wanted to be when I grew up. At that time, I wanted to be an astronaut. I loved the idea of other planets, other beings, discovering what’s out there. Of course, when I realized that you needed to like math and have perfect vision, that astronaut dream was out. And now, after seeing how tiny those spacecraft are, I don’t think I would have handled the enclosed spaces. If only it were like the USS Enterprise on Star Trek. They had tons of room to move around!
There are two IMAX 3-D theatres at the center featuring movies about the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. Both are quite extraordinary. Seeing a shuttle launch in IMAX 3-D is almost as good as being there and you definitely get to see it extremely close up.
Of the billions of people on the Earth, only about 500 have actually been in space. At the Astronaut Encounter, you can meet and talk to one of those lucky few. You can even have lunch with an astronaut (for an extra charge.)
And speaking of charges, I have to say that the food prices at the Kennedy Space Center are a bit steep. There are only a couple of dining choices, Orbit Café and G-Force Grill in the main visitor area and Moon Rock Café at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. It’s pretty much fast food type stuff, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, salads, sandwiches and chicken strips. The food is good, but a bit expensive.
Make sure you don’t eat before trying out the Shuttle Launch Experience. You’re strapped into a space shuttle simulator and “blasted off” into space. They say this is what the shuttle astronauts felt each time they were launched into space. It sure feels realistic.
In addition to all that, there’s an astronaut memorial, NASA art gallery, Hubble telescope images gallery, Robot Scouts exhibit and the Exploration Space building where you can learn how to become part of the future of space exploration.
And there’s more to come at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. They have begun construction on the 65,000 square foot Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit to be opened the summer of 2013. It promises to be quite an amazing exhibit, featuring the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis as its centerpiece. I’m really looking forward to that.
Dates of Visit: December 2009, October 2011, March 2012