Your admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex includes a bus tour stopping at the Launch Pad 39 observation gantry and the Apollo Saturn V Center. But if you would like a more extensive tour, take the Close-Up Tour. It’s an extra $25.00, but worth it. And it is especially worth it from now until the summer of 2012, because this tour includes an inside view of the Vehicle Assembly Building.
The Vehicle Assembly Building was constructed in the 1960s to build and house the enormous Saturn V rockets. For the last 30 years, the VAB was used to prep the shuttle orbiters for flight. Until you’re inside, it’s hard to tell how massive this building is. It’s 525 feet tall and covers 8 acres. You could fit almost four Empire State Buildings inside the VAB.
I was extra excited to see inside the VAB because the actual Shuttle Orbiter Discovery was inside being prepped for its journey to Virginia where it will be exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It looked pretty ragged, but what can you expect when it is the oldest of the surviving orbiters and the world’s most flown space craft – 39 missions and over 365 days in space. Wow!
Atlantis will remain at Kennedy Space Center and Endeavor will be housed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
The regular tour includes a look at the launch platforms, but the Close-Up Tour indeed gets you much closer to Launch Pad 39A and 39B. These pads were used to launch the huge Saturn V rockets, including Apollo 11, which took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. This platform was also used to launch all the space shuttles.
The final stop on this tour is the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This huge 363 foot long building houses an actual Saturn V rocket. This area focuses mainly on the Apollo moon missions. The astronaut’s suits, equipment and actual moon rocks are on display.
And if that’s not enough for you, your admission to Kennedy Space Center also includes entrance to the Astronaut Hall of Fame (6 miles West of the Visitor Complex.) Here you can see the largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia and try a G-force simulator along with other hands-on exhibits.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kenney Space Center and Americans in Orbit. In February of 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. And later that year, the Launch Operations Center was renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center.
I encourage you to celebrate the history and the future of space travel at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Dates of Visit: December 2009, October 2011, March 2012