Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Visiting Kennedy Space Center

Come with me for a trip with me into Space, well my small world of Space Exploration as viewed from visits to the Kennedy Space Center and Astronauts journeys beyond our Planet.

I have always enjoyed learning about Space Exploration since I was a boy and seeing Apollo launches on my parent couch back in London, England.

Forward yourself with me to present day Florida and my trips to meet my heroes and to see the launches made from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

(Me at the VAB - Vehicle Assembly Building)
I visit KSC about once or twice a month if I can. Living over an hour away it makes it easy and so when there is a different Astronaut, Exhibit, Launch  or just to get the experience of being near where it all happens I go.

During my visits I have met 21 Astronauts from the Apollo to today's International Space Station missions. I have seen over 22 Space Shuttles lift off, some from KSC Visitor Complex, some from near by roads on A1A, and some from the end of my road. I have also seen Delta, 1-X and Falcon Rocket Launches with their various payloads lift off.
So how do you visit Kennedy Space Center and where is it? Well the best answer is to view the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex website and watch this video....

So KSC Visitor Complex is a great place to visit on just their normal tours, but they recently added some new tours that will be for a limited time only. 

KSC Up-Close: The Launch Pad Tour - Travel nearly a quarter-mile within the perimeter security fence of Launch Pad 39-A. Enjoy a close view of the 350-foot-high fixed service structure, rotating service structure, propellant storage containers, water tanks, flame trench and other aspects of the launch pad complex. The highlight of the tour is the photo opportunity during the stop at the pad. Other sites on the tour include drive-by views of Launch Pad 39-B, the Vehicle Assembly Building, mobile launch platforms and culminates at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

KSC Up-Close: The Launch Control Center Tour - Tour inside Firing Room 4, one of the LCC’s four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled. 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. 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.

KSC Up-Close: The Vehicle Assembly Building Tour - The KSC Up-Close Tour features an inside view of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Walk along the Transfer Aisle, used to move elements of rockets among the building's four High Bays. Other sites on the KSC Up-Close Tour include the NASA Causeway, A/B Camera Stop and the amazing Apollo/Saturn V Center. Atlantis has rolled over from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building. For a limited time, guests have the opportunity to see Atlantis up-close!

 These tours are an extra $25.00 on your normal admission price but are so rare and limited they are sure worth the extra money.

(Me inside Launch Control Center)

(Space Shuttle Atlantis inside the VAB)

(Space Shuttle Endeavour inside the VAB)

(Launch Pad 39B)

Watching a launch from Kennedy Space Center is fairly simple but the biggest thing to remember that Weather and Technical Issues often cause a Rocket Launch to be cancelled. I have seen many launches since moving to Florida but there are some things to consider before you plan your spectating activities.

Since the Shuttle was retired last year the best thing to witness launching are the commonly used Delta Rockets. These Rockets are normally launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, located a short distance from the Kennedy Space Center.

During the launches there are many places to watch from, the first is at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which offers the nearest vantage point to Cape Canaveral, either via the Causeway Seating area (if available with an additional charge) or at the main Visitor Complex itself at no extra cost. The other options is to go to local parks and causeways that provide parking and restrooms, these are as follows:

  • Marina Park: 501 Marina Road, Titusville -- Restrooms, parking
  • Sand Point Park: 101 N. Washington Ave, Titusville -- Restrooms, parking
  • Space View Park: 8 Broad Street, Titusville -- Parking nearby
  • Manzo Park: 3335 S. Washington Ave (US 1), Titusville -- Restrooms, parking
  • Rotary Riverfront Park: 4141 S. Washington Ave (US 1), Titusville -- Restrooms, parking
  • Kennedy Point Park: 4915 S. Washington Ave (US 1), Titusville -- Restrooms, parking
  • Westbound SR 528 Causeway over the Banana River Park well off the right-of-way near the water
  • Jetty Park: East end of Port Canaveral off George King Blvd. -- Restrooms, parking
  • Cocoa Beach Pier: 401 Meade Ave., Cocoa Beach -- Restrooms, parking
  • Alan Shepard Park: East end of SR 520, Cocoa Beach -- Restrooms, parking
  • Fischer Park: East side of SR A1A 1/2 mile south of SR 520 -- Restrooms, parking
  • Lori Wilson Park: 1500 N. Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach -- Restrooms, parking
When planning your viewing please always remember the local roads are often busy with traffic and you should allow plenty of time to reach and depart from your chosen venue. Rocket launches are less busy than the Shuttle launches from a year ago. Always check the local weather for lift off news and postponements as they happen and the Television and Radio stations carry the most up to date information provided from NASA and Cape Canaveral.