Meandering Life Rating: [usr 5]
I’m going to try to make this short, but in case it ends up really long and you don’t want to read it, I’ll sum it up in two sentences. If you have the opportunity, GO to the Kennedy Space Center Complex in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It’s worth it!
You don’t have to be a space nerd to enjoy it either. The overall experience leaves you even more proud to be an American (if that’s possible) and in awe of the awesome men and women that make/made it happen!
Their website is incredibly detailed about what is included in general admission. Visit the website here https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/.
Essentially with the basic pass you will get to see and experience everything. The higher-end packages include things like lunch with an astronaut and extra “behind-the-scenes” tours. I’m sure those are amazing, but we stuck to the general admission pass and saw everything we wanted. We paid for a multi-day pass so that we could go more than once to make sure we were able to see everything. It is probably possible to see everything in one day, but it would be a rush, especially if it was crowded. We wanted to take our time and we have to worry about the dogs being cooped up too long in the RV so we broke it up so they wouldn’t be left alone for too long.
I can’t list everything we saw in those two days because this post would be way too long so I’m going to highlight the areas that we enjoyed the most.
The complex is designed in some ways to start at the beginning of the space program and work forward to today. When you first walk in, there are several rockets on display in what is called the Rocket Garden. There is a 15-minute tour we would highly recommend. It is eye opening to see the progression from the small, unmanned rockets that barely made it to the atmosphere to the first rocket big enough to house an astronaut. The rockets highlighted were from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.
The rocket garden is small and there is not enough room for the “big boy” rockets. To experience the Saturn V, you board a bus for the Kennedy Space Center Tour. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the Saturn V rocket because along the way you are taken through some of the restricted areas of the compound. You can see several launchpads, the crawler transporter (the vehicle is used to transport spacecraft to the launchpad), the Vehicle Assembly Building (where they house and assemble the spacecraft) and the SpaceX area. At the end of the tour, you arrive at the Saturn V facility. The Saturn V is inside and is displayed above you. Those thrusters are huge! Unbelievable! They have the rocket segmented so you can see the inside portions. There is a tour there as well that is excellent to learn more about the mission.
The highlight of the Kennedy Space Center in our opinion is the space shuttle Atlantis! The outside of the building displays the real liquid-filled canister with the two iconic thrusters. As you enter the building, there is an immersive theater about how the shuttle program came about and the issues they encountered along the way. As the program wraps up, the screen raises, the door opens and the shuttle Atlantis is dramatically revealed. They did an amazing job with the unveiling. Gave us goosebumps and a little teary-eyed. The shuttle is hanging from the ceiling, but you are so close you can see the individual tiles. Seeing the shuttle is overwhelming and is an amazing experience. There are several exhibits around the shuttle with various pieces of astronaut clothing and tools. The Atlantis building also houses the Shuttle Launch Experience. It is a theme-park type ride that gives you a taste of how it feels to experience a shuttle launch. It also lets you know when you have too much face fat!
Forever Remembered Exhibit
This is the memorial exhibit for the Challenger and Columbia astronauts. They have pictures and personal effects of each astronaut. They also display a piece of each shuttle. The windshield for Columbia and a piece of the side with the American flag for the Challenger.
Emotional to see how much the astronauts sacrificed. Another overwhelming area to the Space Center.
I believe this is only certain times of the year, but not sure about that. When we were there, they had astronaut, Jerry Ross. He did a short presentation with video of one of his many space walks. He and his crew were using different techniques to construct and deconstruct various structures in space. The plan of the mission was to determine the best ways to construct the International Space Station. Very interesting and afterwards we were able to speak to him briefly and get our picture taken with him! He is a fellow Hoosier, born in Crown Point, Indiana and graduated from Purdue University. I know he is just a regular person, but really neat to meet a real life astronaut in person!
Like I said, these items were just the highlights. There were many other exhibits and movies to see. Overall, we thought the Kennedy Space Center was well worth the cost of admission. Great experience and would highly recommend!