Exploring Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Rockets, history and inspiration await

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Few sights in Central Florida are more jaw-dropping than a rocket launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast.

But even without a rocket at the ready on a launchpad, a gem for any space enthusiast can be found at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

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The attraction draws more than 1.5 million visitors each year who are eager to explore the history of America’s accomplishments and adversities to reach for the stars.

The 70-acre facility has seen several changes since opening its doors in 1967.

Photos: Exploring Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Guests entering the park are first greeted with a “Rocket Garden” that showcases some of NASA’s pioneering launch vehicles, including the Saturn 1B, Gemini-Titan II and Mercury-Redstone.

Near the Rocket Garden site is the Heroes & Legends experience, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Heroes & Legends is one of the park’s newer attractions and a great start to a day of exploring the history of American space. Visitors can hear from some of the icons of NASA and what inspired them to become the heroes and legends that captivated the world.

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Another stellar attraction at Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex is the Apollo / Saturn V Center. A bus ride from the main park takes guests to a center that focuses on the beginning of crewed missions that ended with several successful visits to the moon and back.

The Apollo / Saturn V Center feathers several attractions, including a Moon Tree Garden, Apollo 8 and the Firing Room experience and a life-sized Lunar Moonscape landing site.

Guests can also walk under a full-sized Atlas V rocket suspended from the ceiling and even touch a piece of the moon.

After seeing where it all began, a great stop for visitors is the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.

The Atlantis attraction showcases the history and accomplishments of NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program, and its crown jewel is Atlantis itself, the last shuttle to fly astronauts into orbit.

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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is also strongly focused on the future of spaceflight. The Astronaut Training Experience and Destination: Mars attractions inspire the next generations of NASA pioneers looking to go where no one has gone before.

In addition to all the historical wonders are food locations to fuel your own adventure and a two-story gift shop to bring home the fun.

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The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers a world of inspiration to anyone ready to venture into the history and future of space exploration.

More information on tickets and park hours can be found here.

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