All You Need to Know About NASA Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida is a landmark destination that is more than just a theme park. Educational and entertaining, NASA's Kennedy Space Center is home to a range of exciting activities and attractions that offer a glimpse into the world of space, science, innovation and imagination. Read on to learn more about Kennedy Space Center in Florida and all that it has to offer to its visitors.
What is Kennedy Space Center?
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is located on Merritt Island, Florida. It is one of the ten field centers of National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA). Since 1968, NASA Kennedy Space Center has been the main launch center of human spaceflight. Famous launch operations like the one for Apollo and Skylab were carried out from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39. Kennedy Space Center also manages the launch of robotic and commercial crew missions and researches food production and In-Situ Resource Utilization for off-Earth exploration. There are 700 facilities and buildings across Kennedy Space Center. The Visitor Complex is one of them and houses the major attractions and exhibits for visitors at the center.
What is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex?
While the NASA Kennedy Space Center is spread across 144,000 acres with multiple facilities for launches and other operations, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is where you need to be! This visitor center is open to the public and features exhibits, displays, memorabilia, two IMAX theatres and several bus tours. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex also has daily presentations from a veteran NASA astronaut.
Why is Kennedy Space Center Famous?
Kennedy Space Center in Florida is pivotal in NASA’s mission. It is the base for Space Shuttle launch and landing operations. Every manned mission to space has departed from NASA Kennedy Space Center.. Over the years, it has evolved to become the starting point for hundreds of scientific and applications spacecraft. Kennedy Space Center garnered more recognition for being the launch site of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars Rover project and New Horizons. New Horizons was the first spacecraft to visit Pluto.
Where is Kennedy Space Center located?
Address: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA
NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is in Central Florida, located extremely close to Orlando and Daytona Beach. There is no public transportation available to the visitor complex. However, you can access it by car. It is a 51 minute drive from the airport and there are ample parking facilities available at the Visitor Complex. The nearest airport to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is Melbourne (MLB) Airport.
Kennedy Space Center Opening Hours
Monday - Sunday : 9 AM - 5 PM
Visit duration: A full day to ensure you see all attractions or 2 hours on a bus tour.
Why was the Kennedy Space Center created?
President Dwight Eisenhower founded NASA 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. President Kennedy’s goal of a crewed lunar landing by 1970 required the expansion of existing launch operations. Cape Canaveral turned out to be inadequate to host the new launch facility design and eventually a decision was made to build a new Launch Operations Center. This new center came to be known as the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Kennedy Space Center History in Nutshell
- In September 1961, NASA sought to purchase land on Merritt Island to support the Apollo Lunar Landing Program. This land eventually became the Kennedy Space Center we know today.
- In March 1962, the Launch Operations Center (LOC) was established as an independent NASA field center located on Merritt Island.
- In November 1963, President Lyndon Johnson announced that the facilities of the Launch Operations Center and Station No. 1 of the Atlantic Missile Range as the John F. Kennedy Space Center.
- The NASA Kennedy Space Center Headquarters building was formally opened on May 26, 1965.
- The visitor complex at NASA Kennedy Space Center Florida began when NASA Administrator James Webb established self-guided for the public to drive along predetermined routes through the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
- As the American Space Program grew in popularity, more and more people were interested in getting a close up view of the Kennedy Space Center and its operations.
- The government urged Webb to create a dedicated visitors’ program and by 1964 more than 250,000 self-guided car tours took place at the Kennedy Space Center.
- Over the years, with more funding, the visitor complex was expanded to include more attractions and increase visitor footfall.
Highlight Attractions at Kennedy Space Center
Meet an Astronaut: Get the unique chance to meet and interact with a veteran NASA astronaut at Kennedy Space Center.
Admire Space Shuttle Atlantis: Admire a real space shuttle suspended overhead with the payload doors open. Atlantic is one of the three space-flown shuttles to be on display in the U.S.
US Astronaut Hall of Fame: This beautiful exhibit was created by the Astronauts of Mercury Seven. The exhibit honors the lives of men and women who dedicated their lives to space exploration.
Heroes and Legends: This exhibit focuses on the legends of NASA’s early space program and how these men and women made their dreams a reality.
Rocket Garden: This outdoor exhibit has rockets from NASA’s Mercury, Apollo, and Gemini programs all represented. Marvel at this remarkable technology or take a guided tour to learn some interesting stories.
Shuttle Launch Experience: This Shuttle Launch simulator will give you the experience of flying aboard a space shuttle. It includes a pre-launch briefing by Charles Bolden, a veteran shuttle commander.
Things to do at Kennedy Space Center
- Get the chance to interact with an astronaut who has lived or worked in space and listen to the mesmerizing stories they have to tell at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
- Visit highlight attractions like Space Shuttle Atlantis, Heroes and Legends Rocket Garden and the US Astronaut Hall of Fame among many others.
- Have a delicious meal at any of the cafes at Kennedy Space Center.
- Go shopping for souvenirs and more at the "The World's Largest Space Shop".
All Your Questions Answered About Kennedy Space Center
NASA Kennedy Space Center is located at Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA.
The NASA Kennedy Space Center was established in 1962.
Kennedy Space Center is famous for being NASA’s primary launch center of human spaceflight.
No, you need to purchase tickets to visit the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and view its attractions. You can book your tickets here.
Yes, visiting NASA Kennedy Space Center is an educational, entertaining, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Kennedy Space Center was built in Florida because it is relatively near to the equator compared with other U.S. locations; and the fact that it is on the East Coast.
The NASA Kennedy Space Center opened on 1 July 1962.