The fourth of a series of features looking at some of the less well known attractions in Central Florida, accessible from Kissimmee.
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) can be found on Florida’s Atlantic coast, situated on Merritt Island halfway between Miami and Jacksonville, on what is known as Florida’s Space Coast. The world famous space center is about one hour leisurely drive from Orlando.
KSC was conceived and built as part of the Apollo manned Moon landing program, as a launch base for the Saturn V rockets, the enormous launch vehicles necessary to get the men and equipment off planet earth and heading towards the Moon. It was President John F. Kennedy who proposed the program in response to the space ambitions being demonstrated by the Soviet Union, but it was his successor President Lyndon B. Johnson who named the facility in JFK’s honour, following his death in 1963. JFK famously set the nation the challenge of landing an American on the Moon before the end of the decade (1960s), a challenge that was met in 1969, six years after his death.
Approaching the visitor centre there is an awe-inspiring array of the vehicles and equipment which have played such a major part in mankind’s first tentative steps into space, including the giant Vehicle Assembly Building which was the largest building (by volume) in the world when built in 1965 and still ranks fourth on that measure. The bus tours around the centre and the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which run from the visitor centre, are a must.
Back in the Visitor Complex is the Rocket Garden where it is possible to walk around many of the vehicles which made up the space exploration program. There are also a number of educational and entertainment attractions including flight simulations such as the Shuttle Launch Experience.
Newly arrived in 2013 is the Space Shuttle Atlantis, veteran of 33 space missions and a vibrant reminder of the amazing and at times tragic Space Shuttle program
Anyone interested in the space program or indeed America’s technological capabilities will get a great deal out a day spent at the Kennedy Space Centre.