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Kennedy Space Center
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Visiting Kennedy Space Center

Visiting Kennedy Space Center is a great day away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. Kids will love the rockets, interactive displays and IMAX shows before you even realise there is a real life space shuttle to marvel at before you head out to the iconic launch pads.

Entrance to Shuttle Atlantix exhibit in the sun

Basic Information

Kennedy Space Center

We’ve all seen shuttle launches on the TV but what is it like visiting Kennedy Space Center? Read on to find out all the great things you can see and do on America’s Space Coast.

Vital Stats

Park Size:

42 Acres

Demographic:

Everyone!

Annual Visitors (2016):

1.7 Million

Avarage Daily Visitors:

4,600

Address

Space Commerce Way

Merritt Island

FL, 32953

Parking Charge

$10 per car but multi day tickets get one day parking for free

Important Note

If using a sat nav, make sure you select the visitor complex. If you just input Kennedy Space Center you will be directed to a zone beyond the security checkpoint.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Location

 

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Walking Distances

The visitors complex occupies 44 acres of a vast 144,000 acre natural reserve. The Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Kennedy Space Center operate roughly 700 buildings and facilities but control is very tight so most of your walking will be limited to the relatively compact visitor center complex. The distance I walked includes the Explore tour of the launch complex, not the standard bus tour. Tickets for the Explore tour can be purchased in advance or on the day subject to availability.

Steps Walked

9,468

Distance Walked

5.77 km (3.58 miles)

 

Visiting Kennedy Space Center

How To Get To Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center is easy to get to whether you want to find your own way there or let someone else take you. The pace is definitely more relaxed than in the theme parks but there is plenty to do to occupy a full day especially if you want to do one of the VIP tours offered at an extra cost. A VIP tour may be too much to do in a day if this is your first visit.

Driving

You’ll find the address details and What 3 Words link to Kennedy Space Center above if you want to drive yourself there. It takes roughly an hour depending on traffic. 

Transportation Options

If you don’t want to drive there are plenty of tour operators that offer either just transportation or transportation with tickets.

Check these popular ticket brokers for Kennedy Space Center Tours with Transportation if you would rather book your day before you leave the UK:

Timings

You should expect a drive to take around an hour with standard traffic. The time will take longer when using a transfer service that may make multiple stops around Orlando for pickups before heading to Kennedy Space Center. Hours at KSC are usually 9 am-5 pm. Pickups in Orlando usually start around or just before 7 am. You will usually return around 7 pm.

When picking an operator be sure to shop around and find someone that picks up relatively close to where you are staying to keep your in-resort costs down.

Kennedy Space Center

Photo Gallery

A small selection of images taken by me around Kennedy Space Center’s Visitors Complex and on the VIP bus tour.

Visiting Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Map

Below is a map of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex. You can download a high-resolution colour copy by clicking or tapping on the image. Use the map to get to know the layout of the Visitor’s Complex. It’s not too large but knowing where your favourite attractions are will make sure you have enough time to view all that you want in a day.

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visiting Kennedy Space Center

Mission Zones Overview

The Visitor’s Complex is split into separate mission zones with exhibits focussing on a particular era of NASA’s history; Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle and beyond. Feel free to explore in chronological order if you want or pick and choose which exhibits you see.

Kennedy Space Center Heroes And Legends Entrance

Heroes & Legends

Featuring Astronaut Hall Of Fame

Gateway Exhibit in Now And Next Mission Zone

NASA Now & Next

Gateway Deep Space Launch, IMAX, Mars

Visitors entering The Shittle exhibit at the nose section of Atlantis

Shuttle

See Space Shuttle Atlantis Up Close

Entrance for the Bus Tours at Kennedy Space Center

Behind The Gates

Bus Tour To Iconic Launch Complex 39

Looking back down the Apollo/Saturn V building from the far end

Race To The Moon

Apollo / Saturn V Center

Kennedy Space Center Mission Zones

Heroes & Legends

This $20MILLION exhibit opened in 2016 replacing and updating the ‘Early Space Exploration’ exhibit that was here. The new exhibit explores NASA’s first Astronauts as well as 9 characteristics of a hero. This is also the new home of the U.S. Astronaut Hall Of Fame which was previously owned and operated by an outside company and located 6 miles west of Kennedy Space Center.

  • U.S. Astronaut Hall Of Fame
  • Original Gemini 9 capsule
  • Sigma 7 capsule
  • Rocket Garden
  • Chat With An Astronaut (chargeable)

Kennedy Space Center Mission Zones

NASA Now & Next

NASA Now & Next is a collection of smaller exhibits in the central hub of the Visitor’s Complex incorporating the newest Exhibit, ‘Gateway’ which explores the future of space exploration while highlighting whats happening now. NASA Now And Next also has exhibits on Mars, an IMAX theatre and children’s multi-level indoor play area in separate buildings.

  • Gateway Deep Space Launch
  • Spaceport KSC Motion Theatre Ride
  • Journey To Mars
  • IMAX 3D Theatre
  • LEGO Build To Launch
  • Astronaut Training Experience (chargeable)

Kennedy Space Center Mission Zones

Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other

Visit the permanent home of Space Shuttle Atlantis. Get up very, very close to an icon of space travel. Surrounding Atlantis are exhibits detailing various missions that took the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. ‘Forever Remembered’ honours those that have lost their lives in pursuit of space travel through Shuttles Challenger (1986) and Colombia (2003) disasters.  

  • See Atlantis “in-orbit”
  • Have a go on Shuttle simulators
  • Forever Remembered memorial
  • Explore a replica of the ISS
  • Shuttle Launch Experience

Kennedy Space Center Mission Zones

Behind The Gates

Access restricted areas of Kennedy Space Center to get closer to the Vehicle Assembly Building and iconic Launch Pad 39 complex. Please note that the standard tour included with admission only allows you to get off the bus at the LC39 Observation Gantry. Windows may be tinted and buses don’t generally stop so photo opportunities will be limited outside of this stop. The tour ends at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Details of longer behind the scenes tours are below but I wouldn’t recommend these to first time visitors visiting only for one day.

  • Buses depart every 15 minutes
  • First bus 10am, last bus 345pm
  • Stop at LC39 Observation Gantry
  • Finish at Apollo/Saturn V Center
  • Route subject to operational changes

Kennedy Space Center Mission Zones

Race To The Moon

See the largest rocket ever to leave the earth, the Saturn V. Most, but not all bus tours, end at this vast show building a few minutes from the main visitors’ complex. New interactive displays teach you about the moon landings and what it means for humankind. You can even touch a piece of the Moon. Allow at least 2 hours for return transport to the Saturn V Center and to see some of the exhibits. I would recommend 3 hours if you are interested in the Apollo era of space travel.

  • Walk under the Saturn V Rocket!
  • Touch a piece of the moon!
  • Apollo 8 Firing Room Demonstration
  • Lunar Theatre
  • Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • Apollo Treasures Exhibit

Visiting Kennedy Space Centre

Enhancing Your Day

Kennedy Space Center and NASA run a small number of chargeable experiences designed to enhance your visit. If you have a particular interest in the area of one of these tours you will find the experience very fun and informative.

Visitors sitting around tables looking up as an astronaut chats on the Chat With An Astronaut experience
Chat With An Astronaut
  • Cost: Adults $50, Child $35 (plus tax)
  • Runs: Daily at 10 am and 2 pm

Sample some snacks in an intimate setting whilst conversing with an astronaut about their experiences.

1 alcoholic drink is included per adult ticket and more can be purchased inside the experience. For 10 am sittings a continental breakfast is offered. 2 pm there is a culinary sampling from the resident chef.

All participants will also receive a gift and a signed lithograph of the astronaut.

Check the events calendar to see who is scheduled to appear

Lead launch director for the final 11 years of the Shuttle, Mike Leinbach standing next to the Atlantis A Shuttle Like No Other Entrance marquee
Launch Director Tour
  • Cost: $75 (plus tax) per person
  • Runs: Select Days at 0930 and 1315
  • Duration: 3 Hours

Tour the Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other experience with Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach who was the lead launch director for all shuttle missions from 2000 until the program ended in 2011.

Find out about the risk and rewards the Shuttle program gave to mankind from a true insider before stepping into the Shuttle Launch Experience (minimum 44 inches to ride) to experience what it is like to launch on board a Shuttle.

This tour runs only on selected days that Mike is available so please check the Launch Director Tour ticketing page to pre-book your spot.  Spaces are limited to 30 participants per tour.

A supervisor looks on while visitors experience one of the simulations in at Astronaut Training Experience at Kennedy Space Center
Astronaut Experience
  • Cost: $175 (plus tax) per person
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Runs: Varies by season
  • Anyone aged 10-17 will need a paying adult

Using exciting and immersive simulation technology your group will train like the next generation of space explorers. Practice your docking skills, navigate martian terrain and experience the thrill of walking in space in a microgravity environment.

If you don’t have the time for the whole experience, the Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) is offered in 3 stages purchasable separately for $30 per stage per person:

  • Microgravity Simulation Training
  • Land And Drive On Mars Training
  • Walk On Mars Training

Mars Base 1 is the newest addition to the ATX. Purchase as and add-on to ATX or separately ($150 plus tax per person) to experience life and work in a Base Operations Center on Mars.

Harvest vegetables in the botany lab, program robots and more in the most authentic recreation of Mars that you will find on Earth.

For a full schedule all experiences are bookable on the ATX section of Kennedy Space Center Tickets website

Visiting Kennedy Space Centre

Special Interest Tours

Kennedy Space Center and NASA also run some chargeable tours to different parts of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Unfortunately, current security concerns mean two of these tours are unavailable, but if you want to delve deeper into the history of Cape Canaveral they are well worth checking out when they become available again.

Looking directly into one of the cargo bay doors of the Vehicle Assembly Building on a sunny afternoon
Explore Tour

The only special interest tour currently running, the Kennedy Space Center Explore Tour makes several stops over the standard bus tour and at $25 is an affordable way to see a little more of Cape Canaveral on your visit.

Tour stops will vary depending on operational needs, Cape Canaveral is very busy with rocket launches and preparations for upcoming Artemis missions.

On my tour, in addition to the LC39 Observation Gantry, we stopped at a meteorological viewpoint on Playalinda Beach, drove around the access road to Launch Pad 39A before moving onto the Vehicle Assembly Building which now has various shuttle-era pieces of equipment such as the crew gantry we could walk through.

This tour can be done in a day but you will need to be moving fairly swiftly to see everything in the Visitors Complex in the time you will have.

You can book a space on the Explore tour directly through Kennedy Space Center Tickets.

A Kennedy Space Center tour bus outside the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse under clear blue skies
Rise To Space Tour
  • Cost: $75 (plus tax) per person
  • Duration: 3 Hours
  • Runs: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at 11am
  • Minimum age is 14

Highlights of this tour include stops at the following but are always subject to operational needs:

  • View Launch Complex 34, dedicated to the memory of the Apollo 1 crew
  • Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
  • Sands Space History Center
  • Hangar C, which is open to the public for the first time as part of this tour

PLEASE NOTE THIS TOUR DOES NOT STOP AT THE APOLLO/SATURN V CENTER

I would not recommend this tour to first time visitors because of the duration and lack of time you will have to view the exhibits in the Visitors Complex. You will also need to take the standard bus tour to visit the Apollo/Saturn V Center

This tour is currently unavailable.

When it does become available again you must book at least 3 days ahead of your visit to allow for additional security protocols to be carried out. International visitors will need their actual passport to participate.

Looking at some rockets laying on their side inside the Air Force Space And Missile Museum at Launch Complex 26
Early Space Tour
  • Cost: $25 (plus tax) per person
  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Runs: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday at 11am
  • Available to those over 3 years of age

A must for Apollo and Mercury space enthusiasts. This tour ends at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

Scheduled stops include:

  • Air Force Space & Missile Museum (Launch Complex 26)
  • Launch Complex 5/6 where Alan Sheppard first travelled into space
  • Launch Complex 14 and the Mercury 7 Monument
  • Launch Complex 19 entrance; launch site of many Mercury missions
  • Launch Complex 34; Used for the launch of Apollo 7 in 1968 but forever remembered for the Apollo 1 disaster in 1967.

This tour is currently unavailable.

When it does become available again you must book at least 3 days ahead of your visit to allow for additional security protocols to be carried out. International visitors will need their actual passport to participate.

A display showing an astronaut walking on the moon in Kennedy Space Center's Apollo/Saturn V Center in the Race To The Moon Mission Zone

Kennedy Space Center

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Kennedy Space Center's Accessibility Policy?

All exhibits in Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex are wheelchair accessible. All buses on the Bus Tours have wheelchair ramps.

Each Shuttle Launch Experience pod has one accessible seat with a 5-point harness attachment and extended seat pan plus a grab bar allowing visitors to transfer directly from a wheelchair to the seat.

Launch Observation Rooms are available for those with motion sickness or anyone unwilling to take part in the simulation so they can still witness the launch without the motion.

Limited quantities of wheelchairs, strollers and ECV’s are available for hire at Kennedy Space Center. The current costs are below but are subject to change at any time:

  • Wheelchair: $10
  • ECV: $30
  • Stroller: $8 (double $10)

For visitors with autism, please check Kennedy Space Center’s In-Park Autism Awareness Guide for specific information about how to prepare for and enjoy your visit.

Visually impaired guests are permitted one KSC Smartguide free of charge, no pre-booking required. IMAX shows offer “Rear Window” Reflective Captioning technology from an LED display. Request one from any theatre crew member.

Closed captioning is available at all tour presentations but must be requested before the presentation starts. If you require a sign language interpreter please give 2 weeks’ notice by phone at 001.321.449.4443 or email Guest Services.

Can I see a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center?

Absolutely you can! Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex offers the closest public viewing available for rocket launches.

Places are limited so booking ahead is definitely required.  Remember that there are also public places in the area such as the publicly accessible Playlinda Beach north of the launch pads that allow you to still get a very close view of the launch for free.

Check the Launch Calendar ahead of your visit and remember that rocket launches are frequently postponed or cancelled entirely at short notice due to weather and/or operational issues.

If the launch coincides with the operational hours of the Visitors Complex, admission is on top of the rocket launch viewing ticket.

There are multiple spots to view rocket launches at varying distances from the launch pads.  For a full rundown of locations and distances and to be able to book tickets, please see the official See A Live Rocket Launch page on the Kennedy Space Center Website.

What happens if there is bad weather on my visit?

Florida’s weather is unpredictable, especially in the warmer summer months.  You may hear “phase 2” announced for inclement weather which means a storm or lightning is approaching the area.

To help preserve the artefacts in their care from the harsh Florida sun and elements surrounding the facility, Kennedy Space Center and NASA have moved many of them into enclosed exhibits.

Should you hear “phase 2” announced on your visit please head to the nearest indoor area and remain there until the storm has cleared the area.

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