Planning a trip to the exciting John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida?
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is primarily a functioning NASA base of operations, where rockets are both launched and monitored. Most famously it is the launching site for the Apollo moon missions and the space shuttles. The Kennedy Space Center’s secondary function is as a public education facility, with exhibits and displays about the history of space flight and travel.
NASA was founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 and the NASA Launch Operations Center in east Florida was opened in 1962. This facility was later renamed in honor of President Kennedy, who set America on the path to land on the moon. Every manned mission to space has departed from this facility. In addition, the facility was the site of the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars Rover project, and New Horizons, the first spacecraft to visit Pluto. In 2001, ground was broken on the Space Experiment Research and Processing Laboratory (SERPL), since renamed the Space Life Sciences Lab. This is a collaboration between NASA and the State of Florida dedicated to development and processing of experiments for the International Space Station.
Hours and Tours
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open every day of the year except Christmas and certain launch days. The hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame stays open until 6:30 p.m. The Space Center runs several tours. The Kennedy Space Center Tour is included with admission. It is approximately two hours long. Tours begin at 10 a.m. and depart from the visitor center every 15 minutes. The last tour starts at 2:15 p.m. Two more guided tours, of Cape Canaveral and the Space Center, are both available for an extra fee. These tours sell out quickly.
The Kennedy Space Center’s numerous exhibits are dedicated to enhancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of space flight. These include IMAX films which put the audience in the middle of a rocket launch and on a space walk with an astronaut, as well as numerous interactive exhibits and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This last exhibit is a separate facility that holds an original Saturn V rocket and brings the story of America’s journey to the moon to life. Other attractions include the astronaut encounter, where a NASA astronaut answers questions and talks about his experiences, the 360-degree shuttle launch platform observation gantry, a memorial to fallen astronauts and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.