Information + Launch Day Ideas!

If you’re taking a household journey to Florida, visiting Kennedy Area Middle with youngsters must go in your itinerary. This publish will cowl the perfect issues to do, what to know earlier than you go, and suggestions for visiting on a launch day!

Have your youngsters ever dreamed of being an astronaut? When our daughter was in preschool, she had her sights set on area. That’s, till she learn in regards to the centrifuge all astronauts should undergo as a part of coaching. She didn’t assume spinning in circles at excessive speeds sounded very enjoyable. But now, she is learning astrophysics in school and dealing on NASA-funded analysis.

Did taking her to Kennedy Area Middle as a child make an affect? Undoubtedly. Whereas we are able to’t declare visiting NASA’s Kennedy Area Middle with youngsters will set your baby’s profession trajectory, it could actually actually instill and foster an curiosity in area journey, engineering, and science.

If you’re considering of taking youngsters to Kennedy Area Middle, I say DO IT! And in the event you can’t make it to Florida, listed below are another area museums and area facilities to go to round the US.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit at Kennedy Space Center via

What’s the Kennedy Area Middle?

The John F. Kennedy Area Middle (KSC) is the U.S. launch web site that has been used for each NASA human area flight since December 1968. I first visited KSC in possibly 1982…so issues have actually modified quite a bit since these early days and it continues to evolve with the following technology of area exploration now underway.

The primary Kennedy Area Middle Customer Middle is an expansive complicated that resembles a modern-day theme park, particularly with the current opening of Gateway: The Deep Area Launch Complicated. An included Kennedy Area Middle bus tour will take you outdoors the Customer Middle to catch views of the legendary launch pads and to the Apollo/ Saturn V heart.

How Lengthy Ought to You Spend at KEnnedy Area Middle?

For those who aren’t accustomed to the KSC Customer Middle, they typically make the error of assuming you possibly can simply see all the pieces in half a day. Not true! You’ll simply fill at the least eight hours exploring the Kennedy Area Middle. Should you aren’t staying close by to simply spend a full day, I might suggest staying in a single day and buy a two-day admission ticket.

Kennedy Space Center entrance

How Do You Get to the Kennedy Area Middle?

The Kennedy Area Middle is situated on Merritt Island, and roughly midway between Jacksonville and Miami on the coronary heart of Florida’s “Area Coast.” It’s simply accessible from the Orlando space and Port Canaveral, the place many cruise ships dock. It’s about an hour drive from Orlando, so it’s undoubtedly doable to do as a day journey in case you are visiting Walt Disney World or Common Orlando.

If you’re visiting Kennedy Area Middle with youngsters as a cruise ship tour, it’s possible you’ll wish to organize transportation upfront as my pal Kim visited not too long ago from a cruise and had a tough time discovering an Uber to get again to the ship in time.

For these staying in a single day, I might suggest searching for lodging in close by Cocoa Seashore, to mix your go to with a bit of seashore time, a stroll on the Cocoa Seashore pier, and probably some browsing classes.

Discover a place to remain close to Kennedy Area Middle:

Visiting Kennedy Area Middle with Youngsters: Know Earlier than You Go

Girl in front of astronaut poster

KSC provides many several types of excursions and experiences, so it would be best to take a look at the web site previous to departure to see what choices are of curiosity to your loved ones and match into your timetable (and price range!)

You may wish to buy your tickets and e book excursions on-line to keep away from the traces on-site, as a result of in case you are visiting round a college vacation or for one of many rocket launches, the traces might be huge! If you’re not sure of your plans, there are self-service kiosks on the entrance if you understand what you need.

There are additionally some superb experiences you possibly can enroll in resembling Fly with an Astronaut, Kennedy Area Middle Discover Tour, and the Launch Director Tour. These are all ticket enhancements for a further price, so it would be best to plan forward to plan sufficient time and price range accordingly.

My husband, a self-admitted area nerd, actually needed to splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime Astronaut Coaching Expertise (ATX), which features a half-day of astronaut coaching together with driving simulators, and constructing our personal rockets. Sadly, the timing didn’t work out for us although.


One other factor you may wish to take a look at is whether or not or not a launch is scheduled. After we visited, a SpaceX launch was scheduled for the following day. We did catch a distant glimpse of the rocket on the lively launch pad from our KSC Discover Tour (previously the Launch Pad Tour), though the SpaceX rockets are so slim it was practically indistinguishable from the tower subsequent to it.

We have been bummed we couldn’t go to the day of the launch nevertheless it seems it was scrubbed and pushed again to the next week anyway. If you’re fortunate sufficient to go to KSC on a launch day, remember to observe my suggestions beneath.

Launch pad tour at Kennedy Space Center via We3Travel
KSC Discover Tour

Greatest Issues to do at Kennedy Area Middle for Youngsters

If you arrive, you’ll most likely wish to head in one among two instructions, the Shuttle exhibit or the terminal for bus excursions and the Apollo/Saturn V — as these are the most important sights at KSC. We went proper over the to the 90,000 square-foot, marquee Shuttle exhibit, residence to the precise area shuttle Atlantis.

Heroes & Legends

KSC rocket garden

If you first enter Kennedy Area Middle, you will notice the Rocket Backyard, which has examples from NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo applications. That is a part of the Heroes & Legends space, which incorporates the U.S. Astronaut Corridor of Fame, a Redstone rocket suspended overhead together with the Sigma 7 capsule, and a Gemini 9 capsule.

One factor I didn’t get to see on my visits was the Area Mirror Memorial, which is a tribute to NASA’s fallen heroes and is designated as a nationwide memorial on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations. A shiny black granite slab is engraved with the names of 24 astronauts, together with the crews of Apollo 1, STS-51L Challenger and STS-107 Columbia.

This space can also be the place you possibly can be a part of an Astronaut Encounter within the Universe Theater, however remember to examine the day by day schedule whenever you arrive for occasions and which astronaut might be presenting. Astronauts are a mixture of commanders, pilots, mission, and payload specialists who share their experiences throughout a reside presentation and query & reply session. You may additionally go to the Astronaut of the Day at The Area Store or Shuttle Specific for his or her autograph. 

Shuttle: A Ship Like No Different Exhibit

On strategy of the Shuttle exhibit, you might be greeted with a full-scale, 184-foot area shuttle stack, together with exterior tank and two stable rocket boosters. We have been fortunate and we walked proper via to the primary multimedia exhibit with no wait. KSC does an ideal job of transferring folks via, by beginning with a short-film after which transferring you on to a different space to complete telling the story of NASA’s 30-year Area Shuttle Program.

Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center via
Area Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit

The doorways are then opened to disclose the Area Shuttle Atlantis, hanging in mid-air with the cargo bay open for viewing. Area Shuttle Atlantis options state-of-the-art multimedia displays and greater than 60 interactive experiences and high-tech simulators.

We had enjoyable utilizing touchscreen displays to seek out the precise velocity to attaining low earth orbit, utilizing Microsoft Kinect know-how to perform an area stroll mission, and function simulations of the area arm.

It was straightforward to spend two hours on this exhibit alone…studying in regards to the Hubble telescope, Worldwide Area Station, what life in area is like, and about all of the many years of shuttle missions and astronaut heroes. We may even crawl via an area station mannequin and youngsters can zoom down a slide that showcases how the shuttle glides in for a touchdown.

crawling through the International Space Station simulation

When you end with all these reveals, you possibly can partake within the Shuttle Launch Expertise simulator. That is the crown jewel of the Atlantis exhibit. It appears like traces can generally be lengthy, however once more we have been fortunate and walked proper as much as the doorway. As all through the exhibit, they do job of retaining ready crowds entertained with interviews from precise astronauts.

They did such job of convincing us that the launch simulator could be very like the true factor that my daughter received too nervous to undergo with the simulator. We nonetheless may participate by watching the movie and the closed-circuit digicam into the simulation room to look at Daddy bouncing and shaking together with the remainder of the individuals. He cherished it and I’m certain she would have too in the event that they didn’t have such a dramatic construct up.

After a fast lunch on the well-organized Orbit Cafe within the Shuttle exhibit, one among fairly a couple of conveniently situated choices, we headed over to catch our bus tour.

Kennedy Area Middle Bus Tour

Kennedy Space Center busses

The Kennedy Area Middle Bus Tour is included together with your admission ticket and takes you “past the gates” to restricted areas of the spaceport. On the best way to the Apollo/Saturn V Middle, this narrated tour takes you previous the Car Meeting Constructing or areas like launch complicated 39B. The route can range although relying on what’s going on presently on the spaceport and upcoming launches.

The tour drops you off on the Apollo/Saturn V heart, the place you possibly can stand below the most important rocket ever made, 363-feet lengthy. Even in the event you can’t take a tour to a launchpad, everybody can catch the bus shuttle to the Apollo/Saturn V Middle.

Saturn V Engines at the Kennedy Space Center via
Saturn V Exhibit

If you first enter, you view a brief multimedia presentation about JFK’s aim of placing a person on the moon. From there, you enter right into a viewing space overlooking the management heart for the Apollo 8 mission and see what it was prefer to handle the mission right here on land.

You may simply spend at the least an hour on the Apollo/Saturn V heart, taking within the present, touching a moon rock, and inspecting the Saturn rocket. As soon as you are taking the bus again to the customer heart you possibly can fill your time with a number of the different reveals.

KSC Discover Tour

Launch Pad 39-A Flame Trench at Kennedy Space Center via
Flame Trench at Launch Pad 39-A

If you wish to see extra of the spaceport past the usual bus tour, you possibly can add on the KSC Discover Tour to your ticket. The KSC Discover Tour takes an identical path to the usual tour, nevertheless it makes a number of stops for photograph alternatives on the best way to the Apollo/Saturn V Middle.

After we took this tour again when it was referred to as the Launch Pad Tour, it was a 90 minute tour that took you inside the safety perimeter fence of Launch Pad 39-A, the launch web site for many area shuttle missions and Apollo moon launches.

We additionally handed by gigantic Car Meeting Constructing and had drive-by views of Launch Pad 39-B (which is the place the present tour goes). The spotlight of the tour was the photograph alternatives in entrance of the Launch Pad and up near the flame trench.

Gateway: The Deep Area Complicated

If you return to the principle Customer Middle complicated, there are nonetheless many reveals to discover, together with the brand new Gateway: The Deep Area Complicated. This space explores the way forward for area journey, in addition to what is occurring proper now within the area program. Within the Gateway exhibit you possibly can see:

  • The Orion Exploration Flight Take a look at-1 (EFT-1), that was launched in 2014 for Lockheed Martin’s capsule’s maiden voyage take a look at mission
  • SpaceX Cargo Dragon COTS-2, which was the primary business spacecraft to ship and return cargo from the Worldwide Area Station in 2012
  • SpaceX Falcon 9 Booster
  • Sierra Area Dream Chaser, which might be a reusable area airplane
  • Mock up of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule
  • The brand new Boeing area swimsuit
  • James Webb area telescope holotube
  • and far more

KSC Spaceport

The KSC Spaceport movement theater trip options 4 totally different journeys: Cosmic WondersDaring ExplorersPink Planet, and Uncharted Worlds. Notice that this trip has a top minimal of 39 inches, however there’s a baby swap choice and an non-obligatory statement space.

Journey to Mars

Hannah and Mars Rover Exhibit at KSC

On this space, you too can be taught extra in regards to the journey to Mars, the Mars rover program, and see the mockup of the most recent idea automobile, the Mars Rover Car Navigator (MRVN.)

IMAX Theater

The IMAX theater at Kennedy Area Middle is included with admission and exhibits area films day by day. These range (we’ve got seen a pair that have been glorious) however are typically below an hour. There may be even a snack bar for popcorn, sweet, or drinks.

NASA additionally offers a persuasive promote to turning into a NASA engineer (labored for my daughter) on the recruitment heart, I imply, Exploration Area reveals.

Exploration Space at Kennedy Space Center via
Exploration Area — Recruiting Future NASA Employees

As you possibly can see, it is rather straightforward to fill a full day on the Kennedy Area Middle, or possibly even two if you wish to take part in a number of the add-on enhancements. Learn on in case you are planning (or hoping) to go to Kennedy Area Middle on a rocket launch day.

Ideas for Visiting Kennedy Area Middle on Launch Day

United Launch Alliance MUOS Launch

The MUOS 5 Atlas V rocket rises above the timber to the shouts and cheers of the gang gathered on the grounds of the Kennedy Area Middle, however it’s many seconds earlier than the rumble of the launch and vibration of the bottom reaches us from the launch pad seven miles away. 

Individuals of all walks of life are united within the pleasure and surprise of the accomplishment of one other profitable area launch. There was a time once we received a bit of jaded and nonchalant in regards to the area program, however the throngs of individuals visiting Kennedy Area Middle on launch day exhibits that the improvements of SpaceX and United Launch Alliance proceed to ignite an curiosity about area. For me, being there to see a reside launch was undoubtedly a dream come true.

Being there for a launch undoubtedly taught me a factor or two, so I’d prefer to share with you my suggestions for visiting Kennedy Area Middle on launch day.


There are a couple of totally different choices on the subject of viewing a launch at a wide range of value factors and experiences. First, you possibly can seize a spot at one of many many public viewing areas on close by seashores and parks together with: alongside the Indian River on U.S. Freeway 1 in Titusville, the U.S. Area Stroll of Fame, Port Canaveral, Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral, SR-A1A in Cocoa Seashore, and the Cocoa Seashore Pier. 

Should you go this route, be ready to get there a couple of hours early (or camp out in a single day) for a first-rate spot. Alternatively, you possibly can see the launch from the Kennedy Area Middle itself. The rocket rises above a line of timber simply throughout the highway from the principle entrance. Guests pack the garden beside the Atlantis and different viewing areas all through the park. The one draw back is that you’ll solely see the rocket because it rises above these timber. 

Should you actually desire a splurge for a dream-come-true expertise, you should buy tickets to unique launch viewing areas inside Kennedy Area Middle. Areas can range relying on launch however are typically out there on the NASA Causeway, LC-39 Commentary Gantry and Apollo/Saturn V Middle. Every provides bleacher seating, reside commentary and shut up views. 

Tickets are out there on-line for scheduled launches and if you wish to do that, remember to buy tickets as quickly as doable as they do promote out rapidly. I might have gladly paid the additional for this in the event that they have been nonetheless out there.

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launch


If you’re watching from the Kennedy Area Middle, plan on arriving when the gates open in case you are ready for a morning launch. Count on lengthy traces for parking and on the gate so remember to purchase your tickets on-line upfront to keep away from queues.

Additionally, don’t trouble ready your flip for a selfie on the NASA globe outdoors the doorway…in the event you cease by later the crowds might be gone. You’ll want to head over to the viewing space 45-60 minutes previous to the scheduled launch window, extra in the event you bought these particular viewing location tickets. If you wish to discover a place to attend within the shade, these spots are restricted so that you’ll have to stake your declare early.

Kennedy Space Center launch countdown timer


That Florida solar could be sizzling. You’ll want to deliver water, a hat, and loads of sunscreen…possibly even an umbrella for shade while you’re at it. I severely thought I used to be going to soften and guarded my tiny slice of shade like a knight defending his fort.


If you’re visiting the Kennedy Area Middle on launch day, count on heavy crowds and a less-than-ideal expertise. After we visited final, our look ahead to the Shuttle Launch Expertise within the Atlantis exhibit was a brief 5-10 minute wait. 

This time, we skipped it solely as a result of it was 1+ hour wait. Strains for busses might be longer, crowds in reveals might be thicker, and so on. It doesn’t imply that you just received’t take pleasure in your go to, but when that is your first time visiting, I might counsel one among two issues. 

Both go to over two days…on the day of the launch and the day after. Or, view the launch from a close-by public web site after which go to the Kennedy Area Middle the following day. If these aren’t doable then by all means go and benefit from the expertise and make the perfect of it regardless of the crowds.

A go to to Kennedy Area Middle is a unbelievable expertise, particularly for youths with a burgeoning curiosity in area and science. The power to get hands-on with so many interactive reveals, be taught in regards to the previous, current, and way forward for the area program, and get to be in a spot the place launches nonetheless happen is simply an unbeatable studying expertise.


Tips for visiting Kennedy Space Center with kids. Plan ahead for your Florida vacation and make a day trip from Orlando or stay at one of the Florida beaches nearby but this is a must-see attraction for family vacations.

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