VIDEO: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Celebrates 50th Anniversary
By NASA // August 14, 2017
KSC Visitors Complex opened August 1, 1967
ABOVE VIDEO: There’s a place where rockets launch and the next generation of space explorers prepare for liftoff. Join the Journey where you can get closer to NASA than anywhere else on the planet at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Florida’s Space Coast.
BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITORS COMPLEX, FLORIDA – Continuing throughout the month, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex celebrates its 50th year since opening to the public.
Here is a look back at where it all began.
How It All Started – With word quickly spreading about NASA’s bold Mercury program and the success of Alan Shepard’s historic suborbital launch on May 5, 1961, growing numbers of people flocked to Cape Canaveral to catch a glimpse of the space program.
By 1963, demand was so high that Texas Congressman Olin Teague, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Manned Space Flight, asked NASA Administrator James Webb to create a visitor program that would build on the support and goodwill of the public.
This led to the creation of Sunday afternoon self-guided drive-through tours of what was known as Cape Kennedy, now called Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
After a year of successful drive-through tours, tours expanded to include areas of Kennedy Space Center.
Nearly 2,000 visitors showed up on the first day.
Based on this success, the Spaceflight Committee authorized $1.2 million for the creation of a visitor center at Kennedy Space Center.
With help from the National Park Service, NASA created a plan to accommodate a projected 2.9 million visitors by 1967.
50 Years Ago – On August 1, 1967, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened its doors to the public.
It spanned 42 acres and featured examples of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo hardware, as well as exhibits, two theaters, and concession and souvenir facilities housed within two main buildings. The bus tours
behind NASA’s gates were still offered, and remained a highlight of the guest experience.
As NASA grew closer to meeting its goal of landing a man on the moon, visitation to Kennedy Space Center soared.
Three days after the crew of Apollo 8 orbited the moon on
December 24, 1968, more than 10,000 visitors descended on the visitor complex, but with buses running at capacity, tours could only accommodate 7,274 guests.
Within 18 months, an expansion plan was approved, including a new reception area and exhibit hall; a Hall of History with more exhibits, a theater and classrooms; and other infrastructure improvements.
By 1969, the visitor center had become one of the premier tourist destinations in Florida, ranking the second most attended attraction in the state.
For more information on the 50th anniversary, please click here.
ABOVE VIDEO: Back in 2012, the Kennedy Space Center celebrated their 50th Anniversary
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Today – Since the opening of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the public has witnessed breathtaking rocket
and shuttle launches from the best viewing areas in the country, touched an actual moon rock, and learned about the men and women who have made it all possible.
Last fall, Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® was added to the list of awe-inspiring exhibits. Through engaging storytelling, guests embark on a journey that begins with an immersive exhibit designed to spark thought and discussion about how society defines a hero.
Then, through cutting-edge technology, interactive elements and engaging exhibits, visitors are introduced to the heroes of the NASA space program: the pioneers who worked together to make space exploration possible.
For more information on Heroes & Legends, click here.
ABOVE VIDEO: Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame presented by Boeing opened November 11, 2016. At this newest attraction you can embark on an awe-inspiring journey designed to spark thought about how humans define a hero. Visitors are introduced to heroes of the American space program through a 360-degree visual.
This year, the 5,500, 11-foot-tall Mars rover concept vehicle was commissioned by the visitor complex as a traveling exhibit to inspire the public about space exploration and interplanetary travel.
Currently on its East Coast Summer of Mars Experience Tour, the rover will call Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex home.
For more information on the rover, click here.
ABOVE VIDEO: KSCVC believes they can inspire the next generation of space explorers to Join the Journey to Mars.
The Next 50 Years – As more advances in space exploration and interplanetary travel are made and public interest grows, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will also expand.
This fall will see the opening of the new Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) center.
It will offer an experience unlike anywhere else, and, along with the companion program Mars Base 1, will bring guests as close to training, living and working on the Red Planet as possible without leaving Earth.
In the ATX center, groups and individuals will experience training like a real astronaut using virtual reality and simulators.
Training activities including landing on Mars, walking on its surface, driving on the rough terrain and experiencing microgravity. Or they can spend the day working on Mars as a rookie astronaut on Mars Base 1.
Guests will be transported to the Red Planet, dock with Mars Base 1 and work in the Plant Lab, operate robotics and solve engineering challenges – just like the astronauts who will one day travel to Mars.
For more information, click here.
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