Kennedy Space Center

By: Janice McSherry

There is a lot on offer in Orlando and it is not possible to see everything in one vacation, however, there is one attraction that should not be missed when you are in this region, and that is the Kennedy Space Center.

While the inventors of the Orlando theme parks used their imagination to conjure up all the special effects and thrill rides, the fascination of the Kennedy Space Center comes from the real achievements of the space program and the possibility that it offers for the future.

The Center has built a huge visitor complex that combines exhibitions with space simulation rides. The newest attraction is the Shuttle Launch Experience, a six-story structure architecturally consistent with Space Shuttle facilities at Kennedy Space Center. As crew members ascend along the gantry, veteran shuttle astronauts share testimonials, setting the stage for the experience to come. Entering the heart of Space Shuttle operations for the pre-launch briefing, crew members are guided by veteran Space Shuttle Commander Charlie Bolden as he takes them step-by-step through the shuttle launch sequence. This is s simulation that gives you a feel of the real experience.

If you want to see the actual rockets and space vehicles then you should visit the Rocket Garden. Here visitors can view the Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space. You can look inside the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules get an idea of the cramped quarters America's astronaut pioneers endured.

But why be content with just viewing the rockets, when you can also meet an astronaut? Fewer than 500 men and women - of the Earth's six billion people - have ever flown in space, however every day at the Kennedy Space Center, guests get the rare opportunity to meet a real-life member of NASA's Astronaut Corps.
Speaking of Astronauts, while you are at the Center you can also visit the Astronaut Memorial and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Astronaut Memorial honors the 24 U.S. astronauts who gave their lives for space exploration and the Hall of Fame combines exhibits with interactive rides that give you a true taste of space. The G-Force Trainer lets you feel the pressure of four times the force of gravity and you can also experience what it's like to walk on the moon or ride a rover across the rocky Martian terrain. You can even try your hand at guiding the Space Shuttle to a smooth landing.

Do you like sci-films? Then visit the IMAX® theaters at the Center. The dream of spaceflight comes alive with a wall of sound, five-story screen and realistic 3D special effects. Dramatic footage shot by NASA astronauts during actual missions will make you feel like you're floating right alongside them.

If you arrive on the right day, you don't have to watch a film, you can view the real thing! You can watch the launch of a Shuttle, satellite launch or even a deep space probe from up close. The website of the space center has a schedule of upcoming launches.

If you have got any kids who are fascinated by space, then the Kennedy Space Center is the place to visit, and if you yourself are thrilled by humankind's march into space then plan to spend one day here.

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