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.
The following post was uncovered while we were researching our Travel Smarter 2012 series.Deep in our archives, we discovered this article, titled “Travel smarter in 1982,” which was published in the spring 1982 edition of “The Illustrated Gadling Quarterly.” We are republishing it here as a reminder that, though a great deal has changed in 30 years, travel is still pretty tubular.We have updated the post to include links and video when appropriate.
Travel Smarter 1982
After last year’s air traffic controllers’ strike, this year can only see improvements in the world of travel (unless, of course, stewardesses decided to start pouring less whiskey in our drinks). While the FAA is still hiring and training new air traffic controllers, Americans are returning to the road, now that gas prices are finally normalizing. And, we’re seeing some bitchin’ technology that will make life away from home more comfortable than ever before. It’s 1982 and time to travel smarter!Air Travel
Flying was a total nightmare last year.Flight schedules were dramatically affected by the air traffic controllers’ strike and the industry is still recovering. That said, there’s no need to avoid flying and it’s still a luxurious way to travel.
How else can you travel the globe in comfort while eating delicious meals and watching some of Hollywood’s brightest stars on shared screens? And, as if air travel wasn’t already convenient enough, we’re hearing rumors that a new company, Airfone Inc., is testing out air-to-ground telephone service that could become available on commercial flights as early as this year! Can you imagine calling your friends and family to tell them that you’re a mile above them? No longer will time on a plane be lost time for your business.
For those of you who aren’t fans of all of those cigarette smokers in the backs of airplanes, Muse Air, the first non-smoking airline in the United States, plans to launch this year after being delayed by last year’s strike. It will only operate in Texas (between Dallas and Houston), but its focus on comfort has us believing that it will soon be a major player in the industry.
With the oil embargo (and its effects on gas prices) behind us, and some people still squeamish about flying because of the strike, America is ready to reignite its love affair with road trips. 1982 should see more Americans hitting the road as gas prices hold steady rather than spiking dramatically, as they have since 1978.
If you’re looking to replace your old gas-guzzler, Chrysler has recently introduced two new “compact cars” that get much better gas mileage than most older models on the road. The Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant are both affordable, fuel-efficient and, of course, sleek. For under $6,000, you and your family can hit the road with money left over for a motel room that has HBO!
Still, with gas prices at over $1 per gallon, people are choosing their road trips wisely. One place that we’re certain will attract visitors is…
Why will Florida be so popular? Because in 1982, the future is now in the Sunshine State! This year will see the opening of Disney’s EPCOT Center and the third launch of NASA’s new space shuttle program.
EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) is a tourist attraction unlike anything that we’ve ever seen. It’s the 21st century…today!
Guests will be able to enjoy Future World, a look into, well, the future, and the World Showcase, which allows visitors to travel the globe without ever having to leave central Florida! Future World features exhibits such as the Universe of Energy sponsored by Exxon and The Land, brought to you by Kraft. Both attractions look at our environment and how humans, along with massive multinational corporations, keep the planet clean.
The World Showcase features pavilions from nine countries representing such exotic and hard-to-reach locales as Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom. One of the nine pavilions is dedicated to the “American Adventure,” which you can experience right here in America! We’re hearing whispers that they will add more countries in the future. Hopefully we’ll be done exploring the Canadian pavilion by then!
Meanwhile, not too far from Orlando, NASA has begun launching their new space shuttles from Kennedy Space Center. Just last year, the Space Shuttle Columbia completed the first two missions of the program. This March, it will launch again with two astronauts on board. Tourists from around the world are expected to converge at Cape Canaveral to watch as the shuttle leaves Earth to explore the great unknown. It’s quite a sight and should be on everyone’s must-see list. It’s your chance to see the beginnings of a space program that could have us colonizing Mars in 20 years!
One of the advantages of road trips has always been the ability to listen to music along the way. With the radio and cassettes, we have music, news and entertainment everywhere our cars can take us. But what happens when we choose to fly? While in-flight movies can help pass the time, sometimes we just want to listen to our rad tunes. That’s why we’re so excited about the Sony Walkman. The portable cassette player has been around for a few years, but thanks to some competition, the price is finally right for almost any traveler.
You can now find a Walkman for around $25 or $30 and are limited only by the number of cassettes that you want to carry in your luggage. That means that you can afford one for everyone in your family, which should finally put an end to all of that whining from the kids about how bored they are on the plane or in the backseat of the car.
There’s a bodacious year of travel ahead of us and hopefully you can take advantage of our tips and suggestions. Head over to your local travel agent, have her find you the best fares and hotels and get out there! Or, load the family into your new car and get down to Florida for a look at the future.