On April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center for the first time, marking the very first flight of the Space Shuttle program. The Columbia would go on to fly 28 more missions during its lifetime, and the Kennedy Space Center itself has been the site of most of the American space program’s most memorable moments. So why not plan a trip to the Space Center Visitor Complex and take in some out-of-this-world American history?
The Kennedy Space Center began when President John F. Kennedy set the goal of sending a manned mission to the moon. Cape Canaveral’s facilities were not adequate for the task of such a mission, and so a new site was commissioned that could host the giant Saturn V rocket that would eventually send humans to the moon. NASA started land acquisition in 1962, and bought 87 square miles of land from the state of Florida. Much of the land is still undeveloped and acts as a wildlife sanctuary — another great reason to visit!
In addition to the moon shot, the Kennedy Space Center was home to many other missions, including thirteen Saturn V launches, several Apollo flights, the Skylab program, the Space Shuttle program, and launches related to the International Space Station.
If you’re planning a trip to see the Space Center, of course, what you’ll really be going to see is the Visitor Complex, sometimes referred to as “Spaceport USA.” The Visitor Complex features a number of attractions, including bus tours, a shuttle launch simulator, two IMAX theaters, and a wealth of exhibits and displays. The Visitor Complex draws over a million and a half visitors a year.
Tickets to the Visitor Complex includes transportation to an observation platform which overlooks Launch Complex 39, which offers a view of the actual launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center. Visitors also get admission to the nearby Astronaut Hall of Fame, which is six miles away by charter bus or shuttle van.
One of the centerpieces of the Visitor Complex is the Apollo / Saturn V Center, which features a restored Saturn V rocket, an Apollo capsule, and theaters where visitors can relive a simulated Apollo firing room and the Apollo moon landing.
Fans of space vehicles past can also enjoy the “rocket garden,” a massive outdoor display of historic rockets. Attendees can walk right up to the base of such rockets as the Mercury-Redstone, the Titan II, Thor-Delta, Atlas-Agena, Saturn IB, Juno rockets, and more.
Finally, Space Shuttle enthusiasts can see the retired Atlantis orbiter on display, or be a part of the simulated shuttle launch with the “Shuttle Launch Experience,” a 44-person simulator which puts visitors right in the middle of the Space Shuttle experience.
The Kennedy Space Center is perfect for a fun and educational day trip. The Center is a convenient bus ride away from Orlando, Daytona Beach and even Miami. Many tourists make a part of their vacation to nearby Disney World, booking a charter bus or van for a morning trip to the KSC. Book a tour, stay all day, and then head back around 6 pm. There’s just enough time in the day to see most of the attractions, catch one (or both) movies at the IMAX theaters, meet an astronaut, and have lunch at the Orbit Cafe before heading out.
Of course, the Kennedy Space Center offers helpful itineraries for making the most of your day at the Visitor Complex, and Metropolitan Shuttle is here to take all the hard work out of planning your transportation needs.
Interested in taking off for a space adventure in Florida? Call us at 1-866-556-3545 or contact us today for a free quote, and see what Metropolitan Shuttle can do for you.