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Kennedy Space Center: Cape Canaveral's Premier Spaceport

A visit to Kennedy Space Center is an experience of a lifetime. Located on Florida's Space Coast and just 45 minutes from Orlando, the space center is one of the area's most popular tourist attractions. The world-famous center features interactive exhibits, educational programs, IMAX films, live presentations, and bus tours that take you behind the scenes to see the work that goes on at Kennedy Space Center.

History of the Kennedy Space Center

NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the port of call for the agency's human spaceflight program. It is also the home to several different operating companies that perform launch, servicing, and support activities for NASA and commercial clients.

The Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 39 (LC-39), which has been in use since 1962, most manned launches from the United States have taken place. It is also one of two space shuttle launch pads at KSC. The complex also includes Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) and Launch Complex 41 (LC-41), built after the Challenger disaster in 1986.

In addition to its roles as a launch site and as a support center for NASA missions, KSC supports many commercial clients. These include SpaceX, which makes frequent trips to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and Orbital ATK, which runs its Cygnus supply ship missions using the crewless Antares rocket from LC-39.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center is among the world's foremost launch sites

NASA's Kennedy Space Center is among the world's leading launch sites. Located on a barrier island north of downtown Cocoa Beach, KSC is home to the launch pad used by NASA astronauts since 1968 and has one of the largest visitor complexes in Florida.

From Alan Shepard's historic flight in 1961 to the upcoming launches of NASA's deep space exploration missions, Kennedy has been a critical part of history. It continues to push the boundaries of space exploration.

The center also provides support services to other government agencies, including commercial and international partners using Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Cape Canaveral Spaceport facilities.

Kennedy Space Center Today

Today, the facility is still operating, supporting both crewed and uncrewed missions into space. Many of its buildings and launch pads are still in use, though there have been many changes over the years as new technology has made old equipment obsolete or unnecessary.

Some of these changes have been due to safety concerns, like moving launch pads away from populated areas after residents complained about noise pollution and damage to their homes caused by rocket launches.

Kennedy Space Center Museum in Florida

Things to See and Do at Cape Canaveral

In addition to hosting space missions, Kennedy Space Center also functions as a tourist attraction with various tours and activities to fill an entire day's itinerary.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Experience the shuttle program through interactive exhibits and re-live historical moments on screen. Stroll under Atlantis for a bird's eye view that only astronauts have had before.

Astronaut Training Experience

Get ready for lift-off with an interactive experience that puts you in the middle of a simulated mission. View an IMAX film and enjoy a meal at KSC's Visitor Complex.

Rocket Garden

A monument to America's early manned space program, this outdoor exhibit features Mercury Redstone, Mercury-Atlas, Gemini Titan, and Apollo Saturn vehicles " "groundbreakers" in launching astronauts into space. See also: Rocket Garden.

Astronaut Memorial Foundation

The Astronaut Memorial Foundation built the memorial to honor America's fallen heroes — those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while furthering America's quest for space exploration.

Visitor Complex

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a must-see for any space enthusiast. On the same site where NASA's astronauts took off and landed for decades, you can experience interactive exhibits, take a bus tour of the facility, and witness astronauts are training for missions.

Air Force Space Walk of Fame

This local attraction gives visitors the chance to honor veterans who served at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by installing bricks dedicated to airmen from all military branches. You can also visit the park's museum to learn more about the Air Force's impact on American history.

NASA's Apollo/Saturn V Center

If you only have time to see one thing at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, make it the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This expansive exhibit includes a Saturn V rocket that stands 363 feet tall and a Lunar Theater that shows films about life in space.

Shuttle Launch Experience

The Kennedy Space Center Tour offers a shuttle launch experience, where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of an actual launch. This experience will give you a chance to feel what astronauts feel when they launch into space. This simulator ride is based on the real-life experiences of astronauts.

It offers 3D images and high-powered sound effects along with motion simulation that makes it truly realistic and exciting for visitors.

Rent a boat and cruise the Banana River

If you love fishing, renting a boat is one of the most exciting things you can do at Cape Canaveral. You can rent a boat from Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill or Banana River Marina & Boat Ramp and then head out into open waters looking for fish and enjoying the beautiful views that this place has to offer.

Visit the Air Force Space and Missile Museum on State Road 405

The Air Force Space & Missile Museum is located just outside the gates of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The collection includes numerous rockets and missiles that were used during the height of the Cold War, including the Redstone, Atlas, and Titan 2 missiles. You can also see several exhibits dedicated to the early days of U.S. rocketry.

See a rocket launch from the causeway

If you want to see something truly spectacular, try catching a launch from Cape Canaveral. Several launch viewing locations are available for public use, including Jetty Park and Playalinda Beach on either side of the cape, Sand Point Park, and Max Brewer Causeway in Titusville across Haulover Canal from Kennedy Space Center. A critical note about watching rocket launches: They're loud! Bring earplugs or heavy headphones.

What Does the Kennedy Space Center Have Planned Next?

The Kennedy Space Center continues to be one of NASA's most active launch sites. There are plans for upcoming launches from this location and new missions that will take place elsewhere but start at Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center.

Plan a trip to Kennedy Space Center and nearby Cape Canaveral, Florida, if you love space. You can see rockets, visit museums and learn about the area at family-friendly attractions that commemorate one of America's most exciting eras in history.

Interested in learning about becoming a resident in Florida or moving there? Read more.

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