It’s Not Your Dad’s Kennedy Space Center Anymore

If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Space Center in recent years, you will shocked to see how the educational-entertainment complex has “rocketed” into the twentieth-first century in terms of tourist attractions.


The VAB is the most amazing building in Florida.

There incredible buildings, including the incredible 525-foot high Vehicle Assembly Building (1965) which housed just one tenant – the 465 foot Apollo/Saturn V moon rockets, are still part of the attractions.  And the assembly of tall rockets that were part of the space program is still on display as well as some of the footage of famous space flights.

But there is a clear orientation to “interactive experiences” for visitors.  About the only new non-interactive exhibits are ones that will leave tourists with an emotional reaction.   The Fallen Heroes Hall contains personal objects relating to the fourteen astronauts that lost their lives in the Challenger and Columbia missions.

FLORIDATRAVELER fallen heroes best shot

A Certain Teacher-Astronaut Was In My Mothers Dancing School in Mass.

Another exhibit that is totally emotional is the massive Shuttle Atlantis (retired 2011) with its doors open and its robotic arms extended in greetings.  Then you discover there is a high-tech multimedia hands-on simulation showing you the highlights of the space shuttle.

Two older exhibits seem more anticipatory to visitors, particularly small children. The Apollo Treasures Gallery leads to the “Touch the Moon” and everyone wants to touch an object that traveled 238,000 miles to Florida.   The Astronaut Encounter Theater is where you can ask a real astronaut anything you want about space exploration – a big boost to your kid’s science fair project.

FLORIDATRAVELER Children_Operating_Landing_Simulator

Kids Operate NASA Better Than Us Oldsters

You might think you took the wrong turn on I-95 and entered Disney’s Epcot when visitors strap into the eight minute Shuttle Launch Experience.  The ride is  more family friendly in my opinion than the place fifty miles to the west.

FLORIDATRAVELER shuttle launch experience

Soon To Leave Florida For Space

You can sign up (far in advance) for one of the Astronaut Training Experiences (ATX) which include some real NASA apparatus, but general visitors will find there are lots of interactivity for visitors at Life On Mars, a simulation where you operate a manned rover on the surface of Mars and collect samples.  I like the fact there are no traffic lights on the Red Planet.

FLORIDATRAVELER Life on Mars Erisa-Hines-and-Curiosity

Mars is obviously on the minds and dreams of the NASA people for at Mission Control, tourists work in a team to launch an SLS rocket with an Orion Capsule which will dock at a Mars Transit station.

You can finish your trip at NASA Now and see all the scale models of future spaceship which Floridians hope will one day launch from the Cape to Mars and beyond.







About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at
This entry was posted in adventure vacation, attractions, environment, florida education, florida history, Florida parks, florida vacations, Historic Buildings, mcbobleonard, museums, NASA, Recreational Experiences, travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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