A Complete Guide to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
What is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex?
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the visitor center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Filled with delightful exhibits, attractions, and activities, the Visitor Complex offers tourists a glimpse into the world of space and technology.
The Visitor Complex is divided into five Mission Zones. Within these zones, attractions and tours are grouped by chronological era. From the inception of space exploration to current and ongoing missions, visitors get an up-close experience of the stories of humans in space. The Visitor Complex also contains historic spacecraft and memorabilia, two IMAX theaters, and a range of bus tours of the spaceport, among many other exhibits.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex | Location & Opening Hours
Address: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA | Find on maps
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on the premises of the Kennedy Space Center. It is extremely close to Orlando and Daytona Beach. There is no direct public transportation available to the Kennedy Space Center, however, you can drive down from the nearest airport at Melbourne (MLB) Airport or opt for tickets with roundtrip transfers.Getting to the Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Duration of your visit: Spending 6 to 8 hours at the Kennedy Space Center is the best way to ensure you see everything and make the most of your visit. If you’re on a bus tour, you will get a comprehensive overview of the major attractions at Kennedy Space Center in about 2 hours.
Best time to visit: The best time to plan your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is on a weekday in the mornings. Avoid visiting on public holidays that fall on weekdays.Kennedy Space Center Timings
Why You Should Visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex?
- Explore real spacecrafts, rockets and more: Get up close to the real Space Shuttle Atlantis, as well as a large variety of other rockets and spacecrafts that have been used in space exploration.
- Learn about the history of space exploration: From Apollo 11 to the International Space Station, gain insight into mankind's journey through space exploration.
- Participate in interactive experiences and simulations: Step inside the Shuttle Launch Experience to feel what it was like for astronauts to take off on a rocket launch or try your hand at the Astronaut Training Experience.
- Take part in educational programs and classes: From talks and tours with astronauts, to special workshops and camps, there is something for everyone to learn and explore.
- Meet a real astronaut: Get the rare opportunity to meet and greet with a real astronaut who will share their stories of life in space.
Mission Zones at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Heroes & Legends
Get a chance to understand and celebrate the pioneers of NASA’s early space programs which inspired USA to reach for the stars.
Race to the Moon
Witness the size and scale of the Saturn V moon rocket while feeling the emotion of the Apollo era with a collection of experiences.
Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other
Visit the permanent home of the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis. Thirty years of NASA's Space Shuttle Program is for you to experience in this mission zone.
NASA Now + Next
Learn more about NASA's present day missions and what their plans for the future are in this exciting zone.
Behind the Gates
Step inside the official space operational facilities and launch sites of various historic missions in the past at this zone.
Must-See Attractions at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
This is an outdoor display of historic rockets that put Americans and satellites in space. All visitors can walk up to and around the base of the rockets. The rockets in the garden are all originals except for the Mercury-Atlas, which is a re-creation but full-scale replica.
U.S. Astronaut Hall Of Fame
The US Astronaut Hall of Fame is a testament to the brave men and women that have explored space. Inside, you can find interactive exhibits, videos and artifacts honoring each inductee that celebrates their incredible accomplishments.
Apollo/Saturn V Center
This 100,000-square-foot facility was especially built to house a restored Saturn V launch vehicle. Visitors can also witness other exhibits related to the Apollo program.
Shuttle Launch Experience
Get a chance to experience a simulated shuttle launch! The Shuttle Launch experience is housed in a 44,000-square-foot building that holds four simulators that can each accommodate 44 people.
Why Was the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Established?
As NASA's path breaking Mercury program grew in popularity, growing numbers of press and public flocked to the Kennedy Space Center to get a closer look at America’s expanding space program.
Alan Shepard’s historic suborbital launch on May 5, 1961, further caught the attention of the public and by 1963 there was a huge demand for visitors. In the same year, noticing the rise in demand, Texas Congressman Olin Teague, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight, asked NASA Administrator James Webb to create a visitor program. This program eventually led to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with all its attractions as we know it today.
History of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in a Nutshell
- In 1963, after NASA’s Mercury program grew in popularity and caught the attention of the public, NASA Administrator James Webb was given the responsibility to set up self-guided tours that the public could drive along a predetermined route.
- In the first year, nearly 10,000 visitors flocked to the Kennedy Space Center to marvel at the development of the USA’s space program.
- By 1964, more than 250,000 self-guided car tours were permitted between 1 and 4 pm. on Sundays at Kennedy Space Center.
- In 1965, Kurt H. Debus, the director of Kennedy Space Center was given $2 million on a full-scale visitor center, covering 42 acres.
- In 1969, as NASA neared the moon, the popularity of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex only increased. In the same year, it became the second most visited Florida attraction.
- Between 1995 and 2007, the Kennedy Space Center visitor center went through many changes. Restaurants, retail shops, buses, and new exhibits were all renovated.
- During this time, the visitor complex got its current name, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
- Ever since, the facility has been entirely self-supporting and receives no taxpayer or government funding.
Things to Do at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Visit Exciting Attractions
The Kennedy Space Center is home to entertaining and educational attractions. Some of the major attractions at the Visitor Complex include the Rocket Garden, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the Space Shuttle Atlantis, and many more.Kennedy Space Center Attractions
Remember to collect some space memorabilia to keep as souvenirs during your unforgettable trip. You can head to 'The Space Shop' and 'The Right Stuff' at the Visitor Complex or shop on the online Kennedy Space Center store.Shops at the Kennedy Space Center
Indulge in some delicious meals at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, that has a variety of restaurants to dine at. Orbit Café, Moon Rock Café, and Planet Play Lounge, among others, offer a range of food options for visitors to try out.Kennedy Space Center Restaurants
Book Your Kennedy Space Center Tickets & Tours
Frequently Asked Questions About the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
A. No, you need to purchase a ticket to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Book your tickets here.
A. Kennedy Space Center tickets start from $80.25.
A. You can book tickets to enter the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex online. Click here to book now.
A. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on Merritt Island, Florida.
A. All the attractions at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex are divided into 5 Mission Zones - Heroes & Legends, Race to the Moon, Behind the Gates, Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other, and NASA Now + Next. Each zone houses an exciting range of attractions and exhibits displaying the journey of space exploration.
A. Yes, there are two main restaurants at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex - the Orbit Café and the Moon Rock Café.
A. Don’t miss highlight attractions like the US Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Rocket Garden, and the Space Shuttle Atlantis, and the Shuttle Launch Experience at the Visitor Complex.
A. The Visitor Complex at the Kennedy Space Center is a must-visit for those who love space exploration. It houses actual rockets, shuttles, memorabilia, fun exhibits, and so much more! t
A. It should take you a whole day to comfortably visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and see all its attractions.
A. Small backpacks are allowed inside the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
A. You will most likely be spending the whole day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, so we suggest wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. Keep in mind that clothing with objectionable material, including obscene language or graphics is prohibited.
A. Yes the Visitor Complex at the Kennedy Space Center is an iconic destination that is a must-visit for everyone.
A. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open from from 9 AM to 5 PM daily.
A. Yes, you can book a guided tour of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for a more meaningful experience.