Following an action-filled 2012, NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is anticipating a momentous 2013 highlighted by the unveiling of the new $100 million home of space shuttle Atlantis this summer.
The 90,000-square-foot, interactive Atlantis exhibit tells the compelling story of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program and highlights the future of space exploration. Atlantis made the historic final journey to its new home on Nov. 2, 2012, traveling 10 miles from the Vehicle Assembly Building, accompanied by a parade of more than 30 former astronauts.
Atlantis has since been raised 30 feet off the ground and rotated 43 degrees, showcasing it on an angle as if it were in space - as only the astronauts from its 33 missions have had a chance to see from the International Space Station. When displayed, Atlantis' payload bay doors will be open and the Canadarm (robotic arm) extended.
Complementing Atlantis will be more than 60 interactive, immersive exhibits telling the incredible story of the entire shuttle program - including its key role with the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope, and how it paved the way for today's new space programs.
Angry Birds Space Encounter
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has partnered with Rovio Entertainment, creator of the globally successful Angry Birds franchise, including Angry Birds Space, to bring the popular game and characters to life. The Angry Birds Space Encounter, set to open at the Visitor Complex in the spring, is the first comprehensive, interactive Angry Birds attraction in the United States and is specially designed to engage children.
KSC Up-Close Tours extended
Visitors can share mankind's greatest achievements and future of the space program with the entire family and receive rare behind-the-scenes access to areas of Kennedy Space Center that have been off limits to the public for decades.
The KSC Up-Close Tour Series includes tours of the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Control Center and Launch Pad. The VAB tour has been extended through 2013, and the LCC and Launch Pad tours are confirmed through Mar. 31.
Open to the public for the first time in more than 30 years, the VAB Tour provides visitors a look inside the 525-foot-tall structure - one of the largest buildings in the world - where the Apollo rockets and space shuttles were assembled and where the Space Launch System, NASA's space exploration vehicle of the future, will be assembled.
The Launch Control Center Tour allows guests inside the Firing Room, where NASA directors and engineers supervised all of the launches for the space shuttle and Apollo programs.
For the first time in the 50-year history of Kennedy Space Center, the Launch Pad Tour takes visitors to one of the launch pads from which the space shuttles and Saturn V moon rockets were launched.
Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Curt Brown, Eileen Collins and Bonnie Dunbar, Ph.D., join an elite group of American space heroes as they are inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on April 20, during a ceremony at the Visitor Complex. This induction is the 12th group of space shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and the first time two women will be inducted at the same time. These retired NASA space shuttle astronauts also share a commonality in their space flight history, as they each flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis during their careers. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex welcomes these former Atlantis astronauts to the Hall of Fame in the same year as the opening of space shuttle Atlantis' new home.
2013 scheduled rocket launches
An ambitious program of planned launches continues from the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex often providing the best viewing opportunities - including the following (dates to be determined and subject to change):
o May - Atlas V/GPS 2F-4 navigation satellite
o June - Delta 4/Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft
o June - Falcon 9/SpaceX SES 8 communications satellite
o July - Atlas V/Mobile User Objective System satellite
o August - Falcon 9/SpaceX Orbcomm communications satellites
o September - Atlas V/Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite
o Sept. 30 - Falcon 9/SpaceX third operational delivery mission to ISS
o Nov. 18 - Atlas V/Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission
A "must see" Central Florida attraction
From the earliest days of America's storied space program, Kennedy Space Center has captured the world's attention and fed its imagination as the epicenter of mankind's greatest adventure.
Nestled on Florida's Space Coast, Kennedy Space Center's remarkable collection of rockets, launch pads, NASA aerospace technology components and rocket launch viewing opportunities offer authenticity and access unlike any other Central Florida destination.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex features many attractions and year-round interactive programs, including meeting real astronauts.
The standard bus tour, included with admission, explores the history of the Apollo moon and space shuttle programs with panoramic views of Kennedy Space Center, the VAB's exterior and a stop at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex attractions and activities include:
o Shuttle Launch Experience, an incredible simulated journey of vertically launching into space and orbiting Earth aboard the space shuttle
o Apollo/Saturn V Center, where visitors see an authentic 363-foot Saturn V moon rocket and relive the historic Apollo missions that saw man land on the moon
o Rocket Garden, where guests can experience the Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space, or climb aboard Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules
o Astronaut Encounter, where guests have the rare opportunity to meet veteran astronauts from NASA's famous Astronaut Corps
o Lunch With an Astronaut, which offers visitors a one-of-a-kind experience to enjoy a delicious meal and meet a veteran member of NASA's Astronaut Corps
o U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, where guests experience exhibits dedicated to our nation's astronauts, including the world's largest collection of personal memorabilia
o Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted, which reveals the future of space exploration with live theater, interactive experiences and large-scale multimedia presentations
o Two IMAX theaters, where the dream of space flight comes alive with a wall of sound, a five-story screen and realistic 3-D special effects during thrilling movies about the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope
o Astronaut Training Experience, which immerses visitors in the exciting world of today's astronauts with realistic astronaut training
For more information about the Kennedy Space Center Complex, visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.