We may not be flying into space anymore – at least not on the government dime – but the idea of visiting the Kennedy Space Center still puts a sparkle in our nerdy little eyes, particularly when we heard of this new package.
For the first time in more than 30 years, NASA is allowing Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests inside the Launch Control Center – where NASA directors and engineers supervised all of the 152 launches for the space shuttle and Apollo programs.
The KSC Up-Close: Launch Control Center (LCC) Tour, the second in Kennedy Space Center’s special 50th anniversary series of rare-access tours, takes visitors inside Firing Room 4, one of the LCC’s four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 space shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled.
Inside Firing Room 4, visitors will pass by the computer consoles at which engineers monitored the computerized launch control system’s thousands of system checks every minute leading up to launch. They’ll see the main launch countdown clock and many large video monitors on the walls, and enter the “bubble room,” with its wall of interior windows through which the Kennedy Space Center management team viewed all of the proceedings below.The LCC Tour opens June 15 and will run through the end of 2012 with a limited number of daily tours.
Prefer to see the rockets themselves? You can do that too. That tour, which began this past November, takes visitors inside the 525-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the massive building adjacent to the LCC where the Apollo Saturn V rockets and space shuttles were assembled.
“This is another very rare opportunity that NASA has worked with us to provide – access to the Launch Control Center,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “It might be another 30 years before guests will receive a behind-the-scenes opportunity like this again.”
The LCC Tour is led by a trained space expert, giving visitors an insider’s view of the space program from launch preparation to liftoff. The tour also includes drive-by views of Launch Pad 39 and culminates at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where visitors can resume the regular tour. Price is $25 for adults and $19 for children ages 3-11 plus tax, in addition to admission.