Top 5 Attractions to Visit in Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral
By Paulina Sánchez |
Train like an astronaut and prepare to travel to space by taking this tour to the best attractions in NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral.
We know that a trip to Orlando would be incomplete if it didn’t include a visit to Walt Disney World. And if you travel by ship, this city is only an hour away from Port Canaveral from which many Caribbean cruises set sail. But there’s something else that makes Orlando a must-visit destination: It’s located only 50 minutes away from Cape Canaveral, home to NASA’s famous Kennedy Space Center. Visit it!
How to get to Cape Canaveral?
If you go on a cruise and your port of destination is Port Canaveral, buy a tour to the Kennedy Space Center with your cruise company. Usually, it also includes transportation to the Orlando International Airport after the tour, so it’ll help you make the most of your cruise vacation.
Another alternative is to take a tour from Orlando. Several companies pick you up at your hotel (including Disney hotels) or at Orlando International Airport. The third option is to rent a car and drive along FL-528 to Cape Canaveral.
History of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral
The John F. Kennedy Space Center was built with a specific purpose: it was meant to be the launching site for the Saturn V: the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever launched.
As its name points out, the Space Center was an initiative of president Kennedy who wanted to support the Apollo Space Program during the space race (the race between the USA and the Soviet Union to send a human being to the Moon). However, the man who named the center this way was Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson. Today, the Kennedy Space Center carries out missions at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
#1 Mission Zone: Heroes & Legends at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
The different areas you can visit at the Space Center are divided into Mission Zones. The first of them is dedicated to NASA’s Heroes and Legends. There you can visit the US Astronauts Hall of Fame, as well as a rockets garden that’s full of rockets that actually went to space. Enjoy an IMAX movie about space travel at the Universe Theater and chat with a real astronaut.
Astronaut Encounter at Kennedy Space Center
Something amazing you can find at the Kennedy Space Center is a guided tour with an astronaut guide. You’ll be able to learn much more about the space program with experts such as Barbara Morgan, who was an astronaut on mission STS-118. You’ll even get the chance to ask her questions about her experience when you sit next to her at lunch time.
#2 Mission Zone: Behind the Gates at the Kennedy Space Center
At the Heroes & Legends zone you can take a shuttle that will drive you to your next stop. You’ll visit restricted areas where you can learn about the most important missions to space in history.
Kenndy Space Center Launch Complex 39
From the shuttle, as you drive around Cape Canaveral, you’ll get to see several launching platforms. The most important of these are platforms A and B of Launch Complex 39. Since December 1968 they have been used to lead all launching operations. Actually, the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the Moon was launched from Pad A on July 16th 1969. Also, it was the launching pad for six missions of the famous Apollo Program. You’ll be amazed by the huge tow trucks that can carry up to 5400 tons and the 136-meter tall launch pads you’ll see there.
Only 8km away from the Launch Complex you’ll find the CEK Industrial Area. It’s a series of facilities that support the Space Center. They used to house the Merritt Island Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network Station and today they’re another tourist attraction apart from the Kennedy Space Center.
#3 Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building
Continue your shuttle tour and head to the Vehicle Assembly Building. Here in DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, we’ve talked about the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. But, did you know that the Vehicle Assembly Building in Cape Canaveral is the fourth largest building in the world by volume? Actually, it was the largest when in was built in 1965. From the shuttle it will not seem to be as big as we’re telling you it is, but here’s a tip to prove how huge it is: Look at the size of the main entrance doors. No, not those tall doors they use to bring space shuttles and rockets in and out of the building. We refer to the very small doors people use to enter and exit the facilities. See how small they are? They’ll give you a very different perspective of the building’s size!
#4 Mission Zone Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other
One of the most impressive stops on this tour is dedicated to the Atlantis shuttle and the missions that were carried out to launch the Hubble Space Telescope and build the International Space Station. You’ll be able to see the original Atlantis shuttle! We don’t want to give you too many spoilers because you deserve to be surprised but… the moment in which the Atlantis appears before your eyes will bring you to tears.
Develop your astronaut skills at the training simulators and travel to space on the Shuttle Launch Experience. Then, visit the memorial dedicated to the astronauts who lost their lives on missions STS-51L Challenger and STS-107 Columbia.
The Best of the Apollo/Saturn V Center
When you reach the Race to the Moon Mission Zone you’ll be amazed by the size of Saturn V. You will have to look up to the sky if you want to see the impressive height of this enormous launching vehicle. It was last used in 2011, so its technology is quite recent. Best of all, you’ll get to see the stages in which the rocket’s parts come apart when they launch a spacecraft into space. Also, you’ll experiment what it was like to be inside the control room when they launched the Apollo 8. What’s more, you’ll see the original spacesuit worn by Alan Shepard still covered with moon dust as well as other treasures from the Apollo missions.
#5 Astronaut Training Experience
If you want to add a unique experience to your visit, train like an astronaut in the new Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) Center. This area of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex allows you to hone your docking skills and spacewalk in a microgravity environment. This way, your next vacation could be a trip to Mars! The program lasts one whole day, so plan in advance or complete only one part of the training in less hours.
Follow our recommendations and launch to your next travel adventure!