Florida: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

About 50 miles from Orlando, on the East coast of Florida, you'll find NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Opened in 1962, this is where the Apollo missions and Space Shuttle missions were all launched from.

Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center is launch control whilst Space Center Houston is mission control, if you're wondering why the famous phrase is "Houston, we have a problem". (Though it's usually misquoted; it's actually: "Houston, we've had a problem".)

Kennedy Space Center
This means that KSC look after the rocket/shuttle to get it to launch and until it clears the launch tower, which takes about seven seconds. How incredible is it to be able to get something so vastly complicated safely off the ground, let alone into space - and with people involved!

Kennedy Space Center
All this assembly action takes place in the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is where both Saturn V and Space Shuttle were assembled. The Saturn V rocket is the one that got man to the moon, and it all happened here at Kennedy Space Center. You can actually book and watch the rocket launches that take place on site, so keep an eye on dates if you're planning a visit!

SpaceX, Kennedy Space Center
Whilst NASA don't currently have a space program, SpaceX launch their rockets from Cape Canaveral. Owned by Elon Musk, SpaceX has the vision of getting 1 million humans to Mars at some point in the future! (They'll likely achieve it as well.)

Kennedy Space Center
The best (and only) way to see and learn about these various buildings at Kennedy Space Center is to take a bus tour, which drops you off afterwards at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. (This is the only way you can get to the center, too.)

Kennedy Space Center
The basic bus tour is included in the price of your admission, but there's also the option to book more in-depth tours and see more restricted areas of KSC. I'd definitely do one of the extra tours it we go back to Orlando.

Kennedy Space Center
Whilst we did gain some awesome insight and history from our bus tour guide, one thing I'm glad we missed out on was seeing some alligators! They are prevalent around KSC - and one of my biggest terrors - but when we stopped at a creek which had twelve 'gators snoozing there the day before, it was, mercifully, alligator free when we stopped!

Kennedy Space Center
Do take your time to look around the Apollo/Saturn V area before you get a bus back to explore the rest of the visitor complex. Focusing on the Apollo days, it's a fascinating insight into the classic era of spaceflight.

Atlantis, Kennedy Space Center
Once you're back in the main area at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, it's time to find out about the Space Shuttle program and see Atlantis for yourself. Atlantis launched in October 1985 and had its last flight in July 2011, which was also the end of the Space Shuttle program for NASA.

Atlantis, Kennedy Space Center
In this area you'll also have the opportunity to experience a shuttle launch for yourself (the orange version of Mission: SPACE at Epcot is more intense, I thought, but this is still fun to do), take part in simulators, learn about the Hubble Space Telescope and pause to reflect on all those who lost their lives in the name of space. For all the triumphs, there were also many sad, life-taking failures.

Kennedy Space Center
Elsewhere at Kennedy Space Center you've got the Rocket Garden, two IMAX 3D films to watch (both very good!) and a new Heroes and Legends section, which wasn't open when we were there. You can see a full list of attractions here, and I'd highly recommend that if you're in the area that you pay a visit. You can just about squeeze everything in a day if you plan carefully!

Kennedy Space Center
We enjoyed a truly fascinating day at Kennedy Space Center learning all about life beyond Earth. For someone like me who has an awesome imagination (I'd like to think so anyway!), I have no idea how people ever came up with the idea of getting us into space, let alone actually making it happen - but I'm glad they did. Aren't you?

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, SR 405, Titusville, FL 32899
Open daily. Tickets can be bought online here

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