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Why you should plan a day to visit The Kennedy Space Center during your next Florida Vacation

by Jamie Rumph

Did you know that the next SpaceX Launch with Crew-3 is scheduled for October 30th, 2021 at 2:43 am at Kennedy Space Center?

Kennedy Space Center Florida

And that you can get tickets to watch from the closest (but still safe, of course) viewing point? What better way to blast into Halloween this year than by snagging a ticket to a Space Launch?

Even if you can’t make it to a launch, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is well worth a visit, whether you are in the Orlando area on vacation, or if you are a Florida resident year-round, you won’t regret planning some time at this historic destination. 

Located near world-renowned Cape Canaveral, just an hour drive from the Disney Parks area, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex makes for a perfect day trip from Orlando. And just like the Disney Parks, the Visitor Complex is full of hundreds of experiences to choose from. Below you will find a Must-Do Experience Guide, details about the upcoming launch and other special events, and some suggestions to prepare for your visit. 

Must-Do Experience Guide

Mission Zone: Heroes and Legends

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Rocket Garden

Upon entering the Visitor Complex, scraping the sky before you will be the Rocket Garden, where you can walk among the rockets used in NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. These original rockets were the stars of the Space Race, of course along with the astronauts who flew them and are just as awe-inspiring now as they were then. Visitors are free to explore at their leisure, and guided tours are also available. 

Heroes and Legends

Learn about the men who flew the original rockets featured in the Rocket Garden during the dawn of space exploration in this immersive experience featuring actual artifacts such as the Redstone rocket, Sigma 7 capsule, and also, get a close-up view of the Gemini 9 capsule. This experience culminates at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, which celebrates everyone involved in space exploration thus far, not just the men who were the face of the organization in its early years. 

Mission Zone: Race to the Moon

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Apollo 8 and the Firing Room

Whether you’re reliving the moment, or watching it for the first time, experiencing the historical launch of the first crewed NASA mission to orbit the moon in a recreated Mission Control Room is sure to give you the chills and thrills felt by those who were actually present at Mission Control in 1968. This experience is sure to get everyone excited to see upcoming launches, whether you get to watch in person or through a live broadcast. 

Saturn V Rocket

Kennedy Space Center

Watching the historic launches of the Apollo missions on TV, or even if you were lucky enough to see one in person from afar, cannot adequately convey the sheer magnitude of the Saturn V Rocket. But standing underneath it in the Apollo/Saturn V Center can. It is almost impossible to comprehend how such an enormity left the Earth’s surface, and you may find yourself with a sore neck from looking up in amazement for so long! The race to the moon and the Apollo missions encapsulate a unique time in our country’s history when dreams and possibilities suddenly seemed limitless, and the Apollo/Saturn V Center celebrates that moment in time in a way no other place on Earth can. Access to the Apollo/Saturn V Center is provided by bus and requires reservations upon arrival. 

Moonscape

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Get as up close and personal with a real lunar module as possible by visiting this exhibit depicting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the first American flag on the surface of the moon. The lunar module on exhibition is the LM-9, built for use on the Apollo 15 mission, but never used due to the need for an expanded Lunar Module which could hold a lunar rover. Compared to the gigantic Saturn V, the Lunar Module is a tiny marvel that got humans down to the surface of the moon and back to the orbiting spaceship once lunar exploration was complete. Access to the Apollo/Saturn V Center is provided by bus and requires reservations upon arrival. 

Apollo Treasuries Gallery

Kennedy Space Center Florida

A must for history buffs and anyone who delights in seeing actual artifacts from historical events, the Apollo Treasuries Gallery holds authentically used capsules, an extensive collection of space suits (some with moon dust still on them!), and other unique space treasures. Access to the Apollo/Saturn V Center is provided by bus and requires reservations upon arrival. 

Mission Zone: Shuttle – A Ship Like No Other

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Get up close to the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the Hubble Telescope, and the International Space Station with interactive exhibits, flight simulators, and thrilling rides as you discover how Space exploration progressed throughout the decades after the original Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Missions. 

Mission Zone: NASA Now and Next

Stay up to date with everything NASA is currently working on, such as SpaceX missions to the International Space Station, and also keep on top of all NASA has planned for the future, including missions to Mars and back to the moon. Exhibits include full-scale models of various spacecraft and rockets, 3D telescopes, and NASA’s own IMAX theatre showing original movies about space and our journeys into it. 

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Upcoming Events

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Rocket Launch, October 30th, 2021 at 2:43 am

Four astronauts will take off atop the Falcon 9 Rocket in the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule heading for the International Space Station.

Tickets to view the launch have just been made available in two packages:

  • The Feel the Heat Package
  • The Feel the Fun Package.

Both packages include:

  • 2-Day Admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
  • a complimentary meal
  • exclusive souvenirs
  • a group photo
  • transportation from the Complex to the viewing locations.

The location included with the Feel the Heat Package is 3.9 miles from the launch site (the closest anyone outside of NASA is allowed to be), while the location of the Feel the Fun Package is 6.7 miles from the launch site, and still provides excellent views.

Links to both packages can be found by clicking here

Taste of Space: A Culinary Journey, November 5th, 2021 from 6:30 – 9:00 pm

This unique culinary experience not only pairs seasonal fare with carefully selected beverages but also pairs gazing up at the stars with the astronauts who have rocketed through them! Beginning in the Rocket Garden for appetizers, guests will mingle with former astronauts beneath the starry sky; a salad and main course will be served as guests dine with an astronaut until finally sampling desserts right under the suspended Space Shuttle Atlantis. Here there will also be a “Marstini Shakeoff” featuring themed cocktails from local bars and restaurants.

Tickets to this exclusive event are $159 and can be purchased here

Preparing for Your Visit

The best way to prepare for a visit to the Kennedy Space Center is to get excited!

During the Space Race of the 60’s the whole world was watching, from every rocket launch to every capsule splashdown, millions of viewers were glued to their televisions unlike ever before. Today, there are countless movies and documentaries available to launch you into your own space exploration journey.

Like with space, the possibilities are endless, of course, but here are a few great options to get you started:

  • Apollo 13 (appropriate for children 13 and over, or mature children with a vested interest in space and NASA)
  • October Sky (appropriate for children 7 and over)
  • Hidden Figures (appropriate for children 13 and over)
  • First Man
  • The Martian
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • The Astronaut Wives Club (a one-season television series based on the book of the same name, also highly recommended)
  • Apollo 11  (documentary, appropriate for children 7 and above)
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (documentary series, appropriate for all ages)
  • Hubble (IMAX documentary, appropriate for children 7 and above)
  • Journey to the Edge of the Universe (documentary, appropriate for children 7 and above)

Since they began, our journeys to space have challenged and stretched the human mind, exponentially expanded the realm of possibility available to us, and dared us to dream bigger than we ever imagined. The next great discovery and adventure the universe has to offer may be within our reach, maybe during our lifetimes, maybe even during the next launch.

Visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers the opportunity to learn about history, and maybe even be part of it too.

Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations travel agent to plan your visit today! 

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