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Embark on a Space Adventure at Kennedy Space Center

Embark on a Space Adventure at Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center has been one of Florida’s most compelling attractions for more than 60 years, and the home of One Small Step for Man is still adding new experiences and events.

Here at Debbie’s Villas, we rate it as one of the must see places to visit on your Sunshine State adventure, and we were thrilled to see a whole new series of events lined up for this summer.

family fun Kennedy Space Center

Well, the KSC is certainly real – it has been since its first sub-orbital rocket launch in 1961 – and it features an increasingly busy range of launches to go with the excitement of the official Visitor Center.

With the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance, as well as NASA itself, all fully engaged in different rocket projects, there’s never been a better time to put the Space Center on your must-see list, especially with this summer’s event series now under way.

Kennedy Space Center

What IS the Kennedy Space Center?

Going back to that first manned space launch from Cape Canaveral, it sparked such an interest in the Space Race, as it then was, that drive-through tours of Cape Kennedy – what is now the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – were approved one afternoon a week. That soon proved insufficient for the growing demand, and the adjacent Kennedy Space Center, which had become an official launch centre in 1962, was quickly amalgamated into the driving tours.

It soon became clear that the interest in the KSC was fast out-growing the meagre self-drive tours, so a major plan was hatched for a fully-fledged Visitor Center, offering official bus tours as well as exhibits featuring the hardware of the space programme. Opening in 1967, the Center was energised by NASA’s bid to put a man on the moon, and its future was assured, becoming the second-most visited attraction in the state after Tampa’s Busch Gardens in 1969.

meet at Astronaut Kennedy Space Center

Further expansions followed in 1991, 1995, 2000 and 2007 before adding another major milestone in the creation of the Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction, complete with the Shuttle Launch Experience, which took the KSC into the very front rank of modern Florida’s offerings in 2013.

That development has gone into overdrive in recent years with the addition of the vibrant Heroes & Legends exhibit (2016), Astronaut Training Center (2017), Planet Play children’s immersive playground (2021), Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex (2022) and the All Systems Are Go show with the Peanuts characters (2023).

Kennedy Space Center Florida

What’s new this year?

While there are no new major exhibits for 2024 (the last three years have provided plenty of extra large-scale pizzazz), there is a full summer programme of exciting special talks, presentations, activities and commemorations that keep things right up to date. The summer theme is centered around the “Discover Something Real,” marketing campaign, which aims to be a celebration of authentic stories and science-based activities. Here’s what to look for from June to August:

June 10: BEYOND EARTH Series (Journey To Mars) Meet veteran NASA astronauts Joan Higginbotham and Julie Payette and hear their stories first-hand. They will be inside the Journey To Mars exhibit at 11am and 2pm to share how every job in the space industry is important, from launch to landing. They will talk about their time at NASA and Payette will speak to her time with the Canadian Space Agency. They will be available for photos after their presentation (included with admission).

Kennedy Space Center orlando

June 25 & 26, 2 and 4pm: Women in Space Presentations Women in Space presentations return to the visitor complex this summer, featuring the space industry’s trailblazing women who will share their stories. Each astronaut will give a presentation on their successful careers and, following each presentation, there will be a photo opportunity. This month’s speakers are Susan Kilrain, Barbara Morgan and Nicole Stott (June 25) and Susan Kilrain and Barbara Morgan (June 26). The Women in Space Presentations are also included with admission.

July 4-7: July Fourth Weekend Activities (Atlantis Pavilion) A special extended Fourth of July celebration will highlight the visitor complex for four full days, with everything taking on an extra festive air with the addition of several outdoor activities all weekend. Guests can look forward to mini golf, corn-hole and much more. All activities will take place rain or shine and are included with admission.

exhibits Kennedy Space Center

July 19-21: Moon Fest Weekend Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. In celebration of the 55th anniversary, the visitor complex will honour this moment in history while looking forward to NASA’s next giant leap – the Artemis missions. During this weekend, visitors will learn about the original Apollo programme and hear the latest on upcoming Artemis landmarks and the return to the Moon. Moon Fest Weekend includes Space Shuttle Atlantis with family activities and a silent disco, while comedy duo “Astro and Orbit” perform at the People’s Moon exhibit at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Then there is the “Apollo to Artemis” presentation at Journey To Mars and the “One Giant Leap” short film screening every hour at the Rocket Garden. See more about the Moon Fest Weekend, which is included with general admission, on this link.

August 2-4: Aviation Weekend This three-day celebration highlights the remarkable astronauts and pilots of the space programme. Visitors are invited to hear talks from a series of fliers from different backgrounds – from a US Air Force brigadier general and F-16 combat pilot to astronauts Scott Altman and Tony Antonelli, sharing stories of reaching for the skies, and discover how they embarked on their paths during Tales from the Flight Deck. On the bottom floor of Space Shuttle Atlantis, guests can also visit the Atlantis Aviation Center to craft an airplane and see whose plane flies the farthest. In addition, there will be an end-of-season block party with DJ Steve and his solar-powered DJ kiosk in front of Space Shuttle Atlantis from 12-4pm all weekend long. A fun activity area including mini-golf, corn hole and four in a row will also be set up nearby.

rocket space ship Kennedy Space Center

August 31, 6.30-10pm: Kennedy Under the Stars Kennedy Under the Stars returns at the end of August 31 for another exclusive after-hours event that combines favourite attractions with a unique glow party. The cosmos will be brought to life through a series of illuminated experiences designed to shed new light on the visitor complex and all the main attractions will be open, usually with greatly reduced queues. Find out all about it, and how to get tickets, on this link.

Get your Kennedy Space Center attraction tickets here.

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