Cape Kennedy Visitors Complex

For over 40 years Florida has been the center of the space program. Much has happened with the space program and the Cape Kennedy Visitors Complex. We have seen numerous rockets cut through the clouds leaving a vapor trail through the Florida sky. But the life of the space program is not been untouched by the heartbeat of the American people in addition to peoples around the world. It has seen tragedy as well as jubilation. The Cape Kennedy Visitors Center has evolved into a wonderful place to take the family for a vacation as well as a great learning experience for all who come to see it. Come take a short virtual tour with me.

Then and Now

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is an outgrowth of the early 1960s, when space program worker’s families were the first allowed to take Sunday drives through Cape Canaveral’s restricted government grounds. The drive-through tour expanded to include Kennedy Space Center in 1964. In response to public demand, a permanent Visitor complex opened August 1, 1967, just as NASA prepared to launch the first astronauts to the Moon.

Cape Canaveral or Cape Kennedy

The answer is… both. Many people think of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral as one in the same. After President Kennedy’s assassination, the names of NASA and Air Force facilities were changed to Cape Kennedy to honor the slain leader. In 1973, Congress changed some of the names back. Today NASA launches the Space Shuttle from John F. Kennedy Space Center, with the U.S, Air Force operates Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, located on Cape Canaveral, the barrier island east of the Banana River, where military and commercial rockets are launched.

Controller, Crawlers and Countdowns--By –the-Numbers Tour Trivia

Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)—Standing 525 feet tall, 518 feet wide, covering eight acres and enclosing a volume of 129,428,000 cubic feet, the VAB is the nation’s largest building and can be seen on the horizon for miles around. It takes 45 minutes to open the building’s mammoth 456-foot-high doors.

Crawler Transporters—Marvels of engineering ingenuity, the Space Center’s two Crawlers—Hercules and Hermes have been transporting vehicles to launch pads since the Apollo moon missions. Weighing in at six million pounds each, the Crawler Transporters are serious gas-guzzlers, getting 35 feet per gallon of diesel fuel. Each Crawler is equipped with a leveling system that keeps the space shuttle stable on the sloping terrain that leads up to each Launch Pad.

Launch Pads

Constructed to send men to the moon atop the Saturn V rocket. NASA modified the Apollo launch facility for the Space Shuttle program. Today, there are two fundamentally identical launch pads, 48 foot inclines constructed of 68,000 cubic yards of raised, reinforced concrete, with a 42 foot-deep flame trench.


The acoustic energy created by a shuttle launch is the equivalent of 8 million stereos. To absorb the energy, 300,000 gallons of water are pumped onto the launch pad during liftoff.


The Space Shuttle Orbiter lands on the longest operational concrete runway in the world. It is 15,000 feet long (the equivalent of 45 end-to-end football fields) and 300 feet wide. When it arrives a convey of 50 vehicles awaits the orbiter to prepare it for its trip back to the orbiter processing facility.

The Shuttle is slowed on landing by parachutes the size of a 13-story building. The Shuttle parachutes, as well as those used tohelp recover the Shuttle’s twin solid rocket boosters, are taken to a special KSC facitlity, where they are untangled and washed in 29,000-gallon-capacity washing machines.

Live Space Launches

The smoke, the noise, the vibrations—and the view! Form countdown to blast off, there’s nothing quite like and authentic space launch. An on-going schedule of manned and unmanned space launches keep eyes glued to the skies above Kennedy Space Center throughout the year. For more information for viewing a launch call, 321-449-4444 or visit

Down to Earth: Aunique Coexistence

Kennedy Space Center shares its property with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and, thus, provides safe haven to more endangered and threatened species than any other wild life refuge in the United States. National Fish and /wildlife Service personnel work hand-in-hand with NASA to ensure space operations do not adversely impact the environment.

Just for Fun – Each mission has its own original crew patch, designed by the mission’s astronauts.

The Space Shuttle reaches orbit in 8.5 minutes and orbits the earth at 17,500 miles per hour. (If you were being transported from Cape Canaveral to Orlando in the Shuttle you would arrive in… 9 seconds.)

NASA Guided Tours

Short of becoming and astronaut, there’s no better way to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Kennedy Space Center than on a NASA Guided Tour. The two-hour tour is an insightfully narrated journey through the evolution of the space program featuring a visit to Caper Canaveral Air Force Station, just across the Banana River from Kennedy Space Center. The tour includes access to historical sights seldom open to the public, and explores the Space Shuttle program, from launch prep to lift-off, including up-close views of launch pads, the Vehicle Assembly Building and the six-million pound Crawler-Transporter that hauls the Shuttle to its pad.

Apollo/Saturn V Center

A fully restored massive Saturn V moon rocket serves as the centerpiece of the Apollo/Saturn V Center. In addition to viewing all 363 feet of the most powerful rocket ever built, visitors can relive the historic launch of Apollo 8 in the Firing Room Theatre, and catch the harrowing final moments before man landed on the moon in the Lunar Theatre. Visitors can experience the Apollo/Saturn V Center in detail along with the LC-39 Observation Gantry on Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Guided Tour.

Other interesting stops during the day are the Space Flight Simulator Located at the Kennedy Space Center’s Astronaut Hall of Fame. Imax theaters in which the Space Center is Home to not one but two five-and-a –half-story-tall IMAX® screens—the only twin IMAX® theaters in the world. Get your picture taken with a astronaut in a space suit and visit the Rocket Garden. Marvel at the eight vintage rockets from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs, each surrounded by expansive walkways and highlighted with easy-to-read signage and graphic elements.

All in all there is much to do and see when vacationers come to Florida and make the less than 45 minute drive from Orlando to the Kennedy Space Center Complex which is located at the heart of Florida’s “Space Coast.”

Reporter’s Comments

Just one day is not enough to see all there is to see at the Kennedy Space Center Complex. I guarantee you will never forget the experience in going there and for sure you will come away with pride knowing that your country is doing something worthwhile. “I AM PROUD TO BE AND AMERICAN!”


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