Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Extends Hours Beginning on Monday
By Space Coast Daily // June 14, 2021
Hours of operation: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has announced that they are extending their hours of operation beginning today.
Hours of operation will now run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Previous hours of operation was 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
History of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
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 press and public flocked to the Cape Canaveral area to get a closer look at America’s burgeoning space program. By 1963, demand was such 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.
Webb’s solution was a drive-through tour of what was then known as Cape Kennedy, now called Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On Sunday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m., the public could drive their own vehicles on a predetermined route that provided a glimpse of the launch pads and facilities. Despite the limited access, the tours proved immensely popular. From late 1963 to late 1964, an estimated 100,000 visitors took advantage of the chance to tour the Cape.
Meanwhile, excitement began to build next door at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), which had earned its own status as an official space center in 1962, and had been named for the late President John F. Kennedy shortly after his assassination in November 1963. In January 1965, after a year of successful drive-through tours at Cape Kennedy, tours expanded to include areas of Kennedy Space Center. On the first day, nearly 2,000 visitors came. 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 and 3.2 million visitors by 1970. The proposal included a Visitor Information Center (VIC), as well as a guided bus tour of the center and its operations. A private concessioner was contracted to operate these programs.
Several possible locations for the visitor center were discussed, including a 20-acre site south of Titusville. Ultimately, a site within Kennedy Space Center was chosen, not only because it provided virtually unlimited acreage for future expansion, but mainly because no matter what else visitors saw or did, they could say they had actually set foot on Kennedy Space Center.
Plans for the construction and content of the visitor center moved forward, and in the meantime, a temporary facility was established on Highway 1, two miles south of Titusville at the main entrance to the space center. It provided basic exhibits and restrooms and also served as a hub for public bus tours, which began on July 22, 1966.
Visitors could choose from two tours – a 1.5-hour tour of Kennedy Space Center or a 3-hour tour of Kennedy Space Center and Cape Kennedy Air Force Station. The new tours were offered seven days a week at regular intervals from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A small fee helped recover the cost of operating the 10 rented tour buses.
During the first week of operation, a reported 13,555 guests took the guided bus tour, with 75 percent of those guests opting for the 3-hour tour that provided a look at both KSC and the Cape. Within three months, nearly 100,000 visitors had taken the bus tour. Within one year, 475,000 guests toured KSC and the Cape, far exceeding NASA’s expectations.
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