KSC Visit Recommendations?

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

dpower

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,219
Reaction score
66
I'm thinking of visiting KSC early next year, and looking for recommendations. This would be my first visit. I see there are 5 different bus tours, including a "Mega" tour, all run by http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/, I presume that's the official/only one. Tickets are at http://www.ksctickets.com/. The "Then and Now tour" looks up my alley. It isn't entirely clear what overlap there is between the different tours, and what can only be seen when on tours. I'd certainly want to see Atlantis, Saturn V center, Rocket Garden, Astronaut hall of fame, Early Space Exploration. I hope to have two days to dedicate to the area.

No tours of CCAFS anymore, according to http://www.afspacemuseum.org/visit/, except via KSC.

Luke's post here was very helpful, and I'd appreciate any more suggestions or tips, thanks!

http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthread.php?55392-Heading-to-Cape-Canaveral!!&p=548897#post548897
 

mjennings

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,553
Reaction score
7
Looks like the prices have gone up too since I left the space coast!
All the tours go to the Saturn V building which is inside the KSC gates, so If you take a tour you will see it, Atlantis, the rocket garden, early explors, etc are all on the KSCVC grounds outside. Can't speak to the LCC, VAB, and Pad tours as they are all new, or drastically changed (pad) from what I recall. The Then and Now is the only way to see the on grounds CCAFS museum, although I thought they had opened an outside the gates building by the south entrance, in the last 2 years. The astronaut Hall of Fame is a separate facility that is down the road from the VC. (my old building is likely no longer on the tour SSPF)

Other Brevard attractions
The Valiant Air Command is at the Titusville airport and is not far from KSC: http://www.vacwarbirds.org/
THe Brevard Zoo is small but nice if Kids are in tow: https://brevardzoo.org/

You could bring rockets and fly with these guys: http://www.spaceportrocketry.org/
Or go to NARCON http://www.nar.org/NARcalend.shtml

favorite restaurants
Italian: http://www.italiancourtyard.com/
Mexican: http://eltucanrestaurant.com/
Pizza: http://pizzagalleryandgrill.com/
 

Getmore

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2012
Messages
5,334
Reaction score
3
I think the mega tour takes you out to the old shuttle pads and it might go by the VAB as well. Jeff ( neon 7) might chim in as he works out there and will know more on what all you get
 

boomtube

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2010
Messages
1,626
Reaction score
2
Personally I always preferred the Original Recipe; the extra crispy never found favor with me.
As for the sides; lately their mashed potatoes have gotten kind of soupy so I’d stick with the corn on the cob and perhaps the Mac-&-Cheese.

I’m sorry; what?

That was KSC?

Never mind.
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,617
Reaction score
158
I'd certainly want to see Atlantis, Saturn V center, Rocket Garden, Astronaut hall of fame, Early Space Exploration. I hope to have two days to dedicate to the area.
All of those things are part of the regular admission. You don't need one of the add-on tours for those. Since you have two days, though, I'd recommend doing all the above (plus "Lunch with an Astronaut") on one day and doing a tour and visit to the Hall of Fame the other day. KSC, without an add-on tour, is an all-day thing. The extra-cost tours have changed since I've taken any of them, but in the past I would have recommended the "Then and Now" tour for true space geeks and the "Up-close" tour for those space geeks who are with their less-geeky families.

If your plans are flexible, schedule your trip to coincide with NARCON 2014 and you can take a special Behind-the-Scenes tour as part of the convention.

-- Roger
 
Last edited:

boomtube

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2010
Messages
1,626
Reaction score
2
Behind the scenes tour?
Is that where they demonstrate how they faked the moon landings?

Back in the early ‘70s I had the chance to visit KSC during one of the Saturn launches; I think it was Apollo 12.

But like all things you needed parental approval and I sure wasn’t going to get that.
 

Derek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
1,403
Reaction score
0
I plan on going there this weekend. I haven't been in a few years and my daughter has been asking to go back. I think the vab is on the bus tour now. We'll see.

As mentioned earlier, the astronaut hall of fame is a few miles from the visitor's center. I don't think we'll do any tours other than the free bus one.

I'll report back after we go.
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
Everything I said in my previous post (quoted below) should still be pretty close... Still waiting for photos from the gift shop at CCAFS. The only tour of CCAFS is the "Then and Now" Tour AFAIK.

The Visitors Center at KSC is where everything starts off... You'll pay your entry fee and then have access to the rocket garden, the museum, the IMAX theater, the gift shop and bookstore, the Launch experience ride, the shuttle display, and the bus tours, which all start from inside the visitor center complex and finish up there. I still highly recommend the tours mentioned. If I could only do two, I'd do the VAB and "Then and Now". All the tours end up at the Saturn V Center, where you'll get off the bus and do whatever you want to there for as long as you want, and then take a different bus back to the Visitor Center.

The shuttle display was just a bare steel skeleton when we were there last summer... it's finished now and in operation. Should be really cool. I'd like to go again but that's a ways off...

Have fun and take lots of pics... :) Later! OL JR :)

Previous quote:
Betty, Keira, and I went last year... we'd saved our pennies for a trip to RatLand, and then we went to KSC/CCAFS for several days... Plan on at LEAST two days if you can if you really want to see stuff... they have some FANTASTIC tours... BUT, they're bus tours and basically you can't do two in one day due to the timing of them. We went out to KSC/CCAFS from Orlando 4 days... we took the "Cape Canaveral: Then and Now" bus tour, which is EXCELLENT... they take you through Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and show you the historic hangars, the SRB segment storage bunkers, and then off the bus at the CCAFS rocket garden, pad 5 from which they launched Al Shepard on his Mercury Redstone, Freedom 7, back in April 1961, including the blockhouse tour and you can press the button that launched him (okay one just like it, but it's on the same panel-- the original button was removed and given to the launch director as a gift). It's REALLY interesting to see the stuff in there... plus, they have some displays in there about the monkey flights prior to Mercury done from CCAFS, and women in space... plus the gift shop (if you get to the CCAFS gift shop, they sell Dr. Zooch Rockets in there-- PLEASE take a pic of the two Dr. Zooch Rockets I built for Wes at Dr. Zooch to be displayed in the case there with his kits... Right after I got back I was contacted by Wes asking me to build a Dr. Zooch Explorer I Jupiter C and a Delta IV-Heavy/Orion Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1) kit to be displayed at the Cape in their museum... I'd LOVE to have pics of them on display!) Heck if you're like me, you could spend a couple hours in the rocket garden... unfortunately, you only get about an hour... Be sure your camera batteries are charged! Then you go back on the bus and go around past the Delta II pads from which many of our deep-space probes were launched... then along the 'back road" through CCAFS past the entrance to the old Atlas pads from which John Glenn and the other orbital Mercury Atlas flights flew, then out past the Gemini pads from which the Gemini-Titan flights lifted off, and then finally out to Pad 34, where the Apollo I fire took place in January of 1967, killing Grissom, White, and Chaffee... the pad was scrapped years ago and the tower scrapped, but the concrete hardstand for the rocket to sit on remains as a memorial, and the steel blast deflectors which were never scrapped for whatever reason... it's very moving being there... the sheer history of the place, with the ocean visible just yards away...

We also took the VAB tour, which I HIGHLY recommend... they just started doing those again with the end of the shuttle program, as they couldn't do them due to safety restrictions with the SRB segments during the shuttle program... they were actually filming the tour for NASA TV the day we went through, as we were one of the first tour groups back in there since shuttle began back in '81... It was very interesting...

We also did the Pad tour, which is pretty neat... they actually take the bus inside the fence at Pad 39A and disembark on the service road... you can't go up to the actual pad (too many hazards) but it's as close as you'll ever get (hundred yards away or so) without actually working at NASA. After a photo op, the bus reboards and makes the circle around the pad itself, past the water tower, hydrogen and oxygen storage tanks, past the blast tunnel, and back around over the crawlerway at the foot of the ramp up to the pad... very interesting. The bus then hits the road to a viewing area between 39A and B, and then past 39B which has been razed into a "clean pad" for Ares I/V (before they were cancelled, now SLS) operations...

The only tour we DIDN'T take was the firing room tour... inside the control room at KSC... I've been in the MOCR a dozen times on tours here at nearby JSC, and there's a "mockup" of the firing room at the Saturn V center, where all the bus tours end up anyway... plus at $20+ per tour, the costs were adding up, and SOMETHING had to go, so.... Anyway, the tours end up at the Saturn V center... Be sure your camera batteries are charged, and you have a couple hours or so to spend (okay, half a day if you're like me). They have a full-size Saturn V on display inside the building, spread out into it's component stages, as well as many displays, including a moon buggy, the early "lunar rickshaw" tool carrier pulled by the astronauts on the moon before the buggy became available, the astronaut transfer van from Apollo, a neat "liftoff of Apollo 8" presentation in a viewing gallery where you "relive" the liftoff, in "real-time". There's a neat "lunar landing" presentation as well, in a theater, with a full-size LEM "landing", the lights go down and come back up and there's "Neil" standing on the surface making the "one small step" speech", then the "liftoff" as the upper part of the LEM "takes off" from the moon, leaving the descent stage behind... VERY cool... The Saturn V is capped with a REAL Apollo, and the top segment of the Saturn V launch tower, as well as a Skylab adapter module behind that in the corner. There's also a display of various tools, mockups, a flown Apollo Capsule (Apollo 14 IIRC) and various sundry other items from training and flight to the moon. They also have a good cafeteria out there as well, where you can eat and look at the Saturn V overhead...

The visitor center itself if REALLY good... they were just getting started good on the shuttle display building when we were out there last year (but we got to see Endeavour sitting in the VAB awaiting transfer to the OPF and conversion for flight to California and display, not 50 feet from us, so how cool was that!) and the shuttle display of Atlantis should be just about done. If you get a chance, do the "shuttle launch experience"-- EXTREMELY cool and about as close to spaceflight as most of us will ever get. The museum is also very cool, and their rocket garden is TOP NOTCH... be sure you go to the building on the other side of the rocket garden and see the Soyuz... don't waste time with the "robotic explorers" tour-- it's mostly a "kiddie" thing and not particularly historical like I thought it would be. Their gift shop has TONS of goodies, and even more books upstairs, just really great stuff.

If you have the time and really want to see a lot of historical relics, the "Astronaut Hall of Fame" across the causeway from KSC (you cross a long bridge over to KSC proper-- this is on the west end of it-- they have a full-size shuttle orbiter model out front, you can't miss it) has TONS of uber-cool stuff from the early days of spaceflight... the real deal... including Wally's "Sigma 7" capsule, and stuff all the way up to the shuttle era... VERY cool stuff!

If you want great seafood while your out there, I HIGHLY recommend "Florida's Seafood Bar and Grill" (www.floridas-seafood.com) at 480 West Cocoa Beach Causeway (on the south side of the road on the entrance to the causeway heading west from Cocoa Beach back across toward the interstate). Their number is 321-784-0892. EXTREMELY good food (especially if you love shrimp as I do, and their fritters are to die for...) We also ate at "Dixie Crossroads" Seafood Restaurant and More, in Titusville... it's supposed to be a big astronaut hangout and they take a lot of NASA-types and politicians and stuff through there so the fellow on the tour told us, and they were good, but honestly the seafood at Florida's Seafood Bar and Grill was better IMHO... you can find them at (www.DixieCrossroads.com) if you're interested.

There's also a museum down at the south entrance to CCAFS, just behind the cruise ship terminal on the north end of Cocoa Beach... but unfortunately I didn't get to go to that one... I didn't know it was there til after I got home... I thought the museum at Pad 5 was the only one...

Anyway, you'll have a blast... If you POSSIBLY can, I'd schedule AT LEAST two full days just to see stuff out there... we did FOUR days to do all the bus tours, and still didn't see EVERYTHING... since the bus tours end up at the Saturn V building, you can stay there, (we did twice) and the other two times we just jumped buses straight back to the visitor center and did stuff there, and we also spent a half-day in the Astronaut Hall of Fame across the causeway one day after a bus tour... we alternated our days at Disney with days at KSC/CCAFS because you walk yourself to DEATH in Disney, so less walking riding in the bus is a nice break and more enjoyable...

Later and have a blast! OL JR
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
I plan on going there this weekend. I haven't been in a few years and my daughter has been asking to go back. I think the vab is on the bus tour now. We'll see.

As mentioned earlier, the astronaut hall of fame is a few miles from the visitor's center. I don't think we'll do any tours other than the free bus one.

I'll report back after we go.
There are SEVERAL different bus tours now... so really you need to plan in advance... it's not like visiting JSC's "Space Center Houston" which is pretty straightforward and requires no advance planning-- just get in which line you want to go on for the tram tours-- usually red and blue, going to the MOCR (Historic Mission Control) or the shuttle control (now sitting abandoned) or perhaps even ISS mission control (once-- they might not allow it any more, due to security)... the other tour usually goes to the astronaut training facility (formerly shuttle training facility, with ISS simulators everywhere) and once in awhile they'll have a special "white tour" going to either the NBL (astronaut weightless training pool a few miles away) or more recently, the SAIL (shuttle electronics simulator). Of course it's about a third of the cost too... WOW! Those prices HAVE gone up! Guess they gotta pay for that shiny new shuttle center... Course I expect SCH will be going up soon to pay for moving the shuttle carrier aircraft onto the grounds in pieces and reconstructing it and putting the simulated shuttle 1:1 model they got from KSC a year or two ago up on top of it... Should be interesting to see, but basically the displays of the NASA shuttle program stuff make NO sense whatsoever...

Anyway, good luck with your visit! OL JR :)
 

Mushtang

Premium Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Nov 29, 2011
Messages
2,947
Reaction score
350
Location
Buford, Ga
I went over the summer and did the Mega tour, and I can't say enough good things about going out to the Pad and seeing it up close!! The VAB was very cool too, but you only get to walk into it a short way, and don't go up at all. The Pad tour has a couple of stops around it, and you can walk right up to the side where the exhaust shoots out. Very cool indeed!!!

The tour ends at the Saturn V display, where I spent about 2 hours and wished I'd had time to spend 2 more.

Also, if you have several hours to spend inside the Atlantis display in KSC you'll also wish you had more time. You can get a LOT closer to the shuttle in that display than you can at the Discovery display in Washington, and see inside it from above so it's just amazing.

Take lots and lots of pictures, you're going to have a great time.
 

Derek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
1,403
Reaction score
0
wow, their web page really sucks! I had to dig to find out what the free bus tour includes.

it looks like the free one just takes you to the saturn v center and only stops at the observation gantry on fridays and saturdays. If you want to see the vab, launch pad or the firing room you need to pay extra. :(

the ccafs museum is only available if you take the then and now tour. You can visit the ccafs history center (not the museum!) for free, but I'm not sure how interesting that is. you can take a virtual tour here:

http://www.afspacemuseum.org/historycenter/

seeing the vab might be neat. we might do that one.
 

Derek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
1,403
Reaction score
0
There are SEVERAL different bus tours now... so really you need to plan in advance... it's not like visiting JSC's "Space Center Houston" which is pretty straightforward and requires no advance planning-- just get in which line you want to go on for the tram tours-- usually red and blue, going to the MOCR (Historic Mission Control) or the shuttle control (now sitting abandoned) or perhaps even ISS mission control (once-- they might not allow it any more, due to security)... the other tour usually goes to the astronaut training facility (formerly shuttle training facility, with ISS simulators everywhere) and once in awhile they'll have a special "white tour" going to either the NBL (astronaut weightless training pool a few miles away) or more recently, the SAIL (shuttle electronics simulator). Of course it's about a third of the cost too... WOW! Those prices HAVE gone up! Guess they gotta pay for that shiny new shuttle center... Course I expect SCH will be going up soon to pay for moving the shuttle carrier aircraft onto the grounds in pieces and reconstructing it and putting the simulated shuttle 1:1 model they got from KSC a year or two ago up on top of it... Should be interesting to see, but basically the displays of the NASA shuttle program stuff make NO sense whatsoever...

Anyway, good luck with your visit! OL JR :)
planning is too much work. that's the beauty of living a half an hour away - we can just go back. space coast residents get in for practically nothing during certain months of the year (like now). this is better than the free weekend they used to have when everybody in the county showed up and the place was a zoo.

last time we went my daughter loved this robots in space exhibit. we must have gone through it a half a dozen times. I had to eventually drag her out of there so we could get home before bed time!
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
I went over the summer and did the Mega tour, and I can't say enough good things about going out to the Pad and seeing it up close!! The VAB was very cool too, but you only get to walk into it a short way, and don't go up at all. The Pad tour has a couple of stops around it, and you can walk right up to the side where the exhaust shoots out. Very cool indeed!!!

The tour ends at the Saturn V display, where I spent about 2 hours and wished I'd had time to spend 2 more.

Also, if you have several hours to spend inside the Atlantis display in KSC you'll also wish you had more time. You can get a LOT closer to the shuttle in that display than you can at the Discovery display in Washington, and see inside it from above so it's just amazing.

Take lots and lots of pictures, you're going to have a great time.
Interesting...

Our pad tour had one stop where we got off the bus... it was just east of the pad a couple hundred yards off on an access road (next to the "stop lights" that show the pad circumstances-- green "all clear", yellow "hazardous operations", red "what the h*** are you still doing here!") I have a photo that I took there that I found rather amusing-- 'personel' was misspelled... and funnier still was at Epcot on the "space experience" ride, they spelled it RIGHT... LOL:) Of course we weren't allowed any closer to the pad than that... we circled around inside the fence along the access road past the LH2 sphere tank and the blast tunnel (but we didn't stop) and then around past the LO2 sphere tank and back around past the bunker and the hypergol fueling facilities (which of COURSE we didn't stop at... nobody allowed near that unless they're in a hazmat suit!) Then we crossed the crawlerway ramp up to the pad over the access road and back out, and over past 39B (which has been razed clean for SLS) and thence to the Saturn V center...

Sounds like the mega tour does the VAB and Pad 39A tour combined in one... that's probably a good idea... not much to see in the VAB now... Endeavour was sitting in one of the low bays waiting to get into the OPF to be readied to be ferried to CA on the SCA when we were there... we got within about 50-75 feet of it I guess... pretty neat. (Keira and I went to see it when the SCA carrying it to CA landed at Ellington AFB and did a fly-over of JSC here in Houston on its final voyage... I let her miss school that day to attend, and her teacher told her "I wish *I* had missed school to see it too!" LOL:)) With the shuttles all long gone, there's probably not much in the VAB now..... there was an escape tower for the Orion and some Orion BPC parts sitting in there, but that's probably gone too... heck they've even stripped the VAB of the shuttle work platforms and stuff since we were there... (saw that on NASA TV). Still, the VAB is an amazing place... sort of the "high cathedral" of the US space program IMHO... and seeing it sitting there like some ancient Pharaoh's tomb speaks volumes to me about the current (and by extension future) state of the US space program IMHO... Sort of the same thing at the pads, but at least there was SOME activity going on there when we went to 39A-- there was a big crane sitting in the flame trench doing some work on the walls-- really gives scale to the place...

Later! OL JR :)
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
planning is too much work. that's the beauty of living a half an hour away - we can just go back. space coast residents get in for practically nothing during certain months of the year (like now). this is better than the free weekend they used to have when everybody in the county showed up and the place was a zoo.

last time we went my daughter loved this robots in space exhibit. we must have gone through it a half a dozen times. I had to eventually drag her out of there so we could get home before bed time!
That's cool...

Keira and I took the robots tour, and it was okay... glad your daughter enjoyed it... I thought it would be much more "historical" than it was (because the unmanned program IS very interesting-- I thought it was kinda chintz to make it as fanciful as it was because, while it appeals to kids, sure, it also just glosses over "the real thing" IMHO... neat, sure, but not really 'historical'. Keira liked it but when we made it out she was done with it...

Now the launch experience ride... that we did twice on different days... :) We did the "experience space" at Epcot like 4-5 times, the first one on the "green" (softie) tour-- from then on she wanted the "orange" (full force) deal... VERY cool... :)

Later! OL JR :)

PS... yeah, we're the same way about JSC... JSC is 65 miles from my back door, cross country through the sticks... we go down there a time or two per year, usually. The JSC Visitor Center could be a lot more "historical" IMHO as well... it's a little light on the historical stuff and pretty heavy on the "kiddie" stuff... NASA quit running their own visitor centers years (decades?) ago and turned it over to contractors, so basically it all depends on the quality and profit margins of the contractor running that NASA center's particular visitor center as to what the actual quality will be...

I'm just glad the surviving Saturn V's are now all under roofs... seems like things have been improving somewhat with the visitor centers too, in all fairness... They've made a BIG effort to put the shuttle on display at KSC and also to open up the VAB and pads and the firing room to the public tours, as well as CCAFS... MSFC's US Space/Rocket Center (USSRC) visitor center has their beautiful new Davidson Center for their Saturn V, although they DO need to do some SERIOUS work on their outdoor displays (which are both subject to the bad weather they get and have a number of very obvious historical inaccuracies). I was disappointed though that they basically gutted the old museum part to free up space for more of those travelling exhibits like the "grossology" and other fluff kiddie stuff that periodically visits and plagues SCH here... a "Star Wars" exhibition was there when we last went to USSRC, which was at least pretty interesting as they had some "build and program a robot" type activities (which Keira LOVED) and maglev cars you could build, and ride an air-bearing car, which she was also crazy about...

Houston enclosed their Saturn V in a steel building a few years back after its restoration, and HAD been air-conditioning it to preserve its condition against the fierce Texas heat and humidity and salt air coming from the nearby Gulf of Mexico, but evidently that got too costly because the last year or so it's been un-airconditioned... They've also done work on the Apollo Little Joe (repainted it) and they're supposed to be getting a Gemini Titan at some point to add to the Mercury Redstone already there (which really makes no sense, since the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston didn't have ANYTHING to do with the Mercury program-- it wasn't even ready until after the first Gemini flight which was controlled from Florida...) They got the full scale model of the shuttle KSC had on display barged in from Florida and trucked across to KSC from the barge slip, and now they're getting the shuttle carrier aircraft from its retirement at Dryden; it'll be sectioned up and hauled from Ellington AFB to SCH and reassembled there, and the 1:1 shuttle model placed atop it in "ferry mode"... so that should be interesting (although I don't really know what ferrying shuttles has to do with Houston-- the most they ever did was stop over at Ellington occasionally on their way between CA and FL... Oh well, we'll take what we can get since we didn't get a REAL shuttle...

Hopefully they'll continue to improve and seek to more accurately and completely portray the history of the space program... we can hope anyway...
 
Last edited:

Derek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
1,403
Reaction score
0
I didn't get the robot thing either. oh well.

I finally convinced her to try mission space in epcot this summer. She almost went on it about a year ago but all the ridiculous warnings before you get on the ride scared her off. it took a year of going back before she tried it again and now it is one of her favorite rides. she did the orange version a couple of times in a row this summer. I like it, but that is a bit much for me. I also think they tamed it down a bit after it killed a couple of people. those were the good ole days... :)
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
I didn't get the robot thing either. oh well.

I finally convinced her to try mission space in epcot this summer. She almost went on it about a year ago but all the ridiculous warnings before you get on the ride scared her off. it took a year of going back before she tried it again and now it is one of her favorite rides. she did the orange version a couple of times in a row this summer. I like it, but that is a bit much for me. I also think they tamed it down a bit after it killed a couple of people. those were the good ole days... :)
Yeah, it scared the jabbers out of my wife... she's had back surgery on her lumbar region years ago and it's exactly 100%... easily thrown out of kilter, and so she wouldn't go on orange... it was green or nothing. So we all went Green the first go-round... Keira and I enjoyed it SO much we went back on Orange almost as soon as we were done. After a few more go-rounds we FINALLY convinced Betty to go on Orange with us, that she'd be okay... she did and she was...

Won't get her back on the 3 gee wheel at USSRC in Huntsville again though-- you strap in on what's essentially mechanic's creepers sitting back at an angle against the inside wall of an enormous disk... then the ride starts and accelerates you up to 3 gees via centrifugal force... when you hit 3 g, the 'creepers' roll up the wall to rubber stops at the top... then they hold you there for about a half-minute or so, and you get to move your arms around and stuff and see how hard it is to move even at just 3g... then it slows down and you eventually "drop" back down the ramps to the floor... when the seat finally rolled back down the wall to the floor, it hit the rubber bumpers at the bottom hard enough to give Betty a jolt up her spine, and she was sore for a day or two, so that ride is history for her...

Later! OL JR :)
 

Derek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
1,403
Reaction score
0
We did get out there on Saturday and had a great time. I may go back next weekend with both kids as I actually think my younger one would enjoy it as well.

Atlantis exhibit: Very well done. You could spend hours in there if you looked/read/played with everything. We went through it 3 times, but mostly to go down the slide and watch the opening movie, both of which my daughter loved. We did the shuttle launch experience twice. Also very fun. We had a little snack while sitting underneath her. It was pretty awesome.

Free bus tour: this was good and bad. We specifically went on saturday so we could stop at the launch pad observation gantry but once the tour started the driver said that stop has been cancelled for whatever reason. Grrrr. The consolation prize was an extended bus tour around the pads. That was nice as I haven't gotten a chance to get out to the pads yet. The saturn v stop is really neat. My daughter really like the moon rock exhibits and space suits. The bottom line is don't trust anything you read on the website.

We didn't see any of the imax movies. The robot exhibit was a hit again as was the angry birds interactive exhibit. My younger daughter would really like that. We spent a little time at the rocket garden on our way out. It was past closing time though so couldn't spend much time there.

Like the other times I've been there, they still infuriatingly under staff ticket windows and bus drivers. They have 12 ticket windows of which only two were open and a line stretching hundreds of feet with people waiting to hand them money. It took over 30 minutes just to buy the tickets! Same with the bus tour - grossly inefficient. Loading a wheelchair took 15 minutes. Really? All the while the lines are getting longer and longer with empty buses sitting there. Another 30+ minutes wasted.

The food is pretty bad compared to the other theme parks in the area. At least they were somewhat fast about getting the food to you.

My final gripe was they are constantly hitting you up with pictures to sell you. I did end up buying one of my daughter from the shuttle launch experience as it was actually a cute picture (they photoshop your head onto a space suit). I think it was like $16.

You could easily spend two days at the visitor complex and still miss stuff, especially if you take an extended bus tour. I've never been to the astronaut hall of fame, but I'd be willing to bet that is another half day at least.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. If we go again next weekend I'll post another update.
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,617
Reaction score
158
The food is pretty bad compared to the other theme parks in the area. At least they were somewhat fast about getting the food to you.
Yeah, the food is bad. That's one reason I recommend the "Lunch with an Astronaut." The food is better than elsewhere in the Visitor Complex. I especially like the little corn dogs that they include for the kids. :)

-- Roger
 

Derek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
1,403
Reaction score
0
Yeah, the food is bad. That's one reason I recommend the "Lunch with an Astronaut." The food is better than elsewhere in the Visitor Complex. I especially like the little corn dogs that they include for the kids. :)

-- Roger
good to know. thanks!
 

mjennings

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,553
Reaction score
7
I always thought food was on par with other theme parks, but I haven't been there in a while, and the gates were always understaffed in my experience as well. What I really miss is the discount KSC employees got this time of year. We could get in for free (no bus ride) and hit the gift shop and get a pretty good discount, all my nephews and nieces got NASA T-shirts for Christmas, those years
 

Scott Evil

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Messages
809
Reaction score
0
Jump on the space shuttle launch ride right away before the line takes away the mood.

Spend two days looking around/and on buses if you can.

When your done, go hang out at Cocoa Beach for supper and play in the water...Bring change for parking meters.

...Relax

Just advice to myself should I/we go again.
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
Like the other times I've been there, they still infuriatingly under staff ticket windows and bus drivers. They have 12 ticket windows of which only two were open and a line stretching hundreds of feet with people waiting to hand them money. It took over 30 minutes just to buy the tickets! Same with the bus tour - grossly inefficient. Loading a wheelchair took 15 minutes. Really? All the while the lines are getting longer and longer with empty buses sitting there. Another 30+ minutes wasted..
Well, that's everywhere... ALL the visitor centers are pretty much like that... heck most retailers are like that, especially walmart and such... I have to laugh-- they have $200,000 or more in registers and equipment so they have 24 checkout lanes, and never run more than about 3... then they go install "self checkouts" (which I for one refuse to use... when I get a 10% discount for checking out my own stuff, I'll use them) and spend a ton more money to install all that crap... just to avoid having to pay someone $5.50 an hour to sit at a register... Height of stupidity...

The food is pretty bad compared to the other theme parks in the area. At least they were somewhat fast about getting the food to you..
The food isn't stellar, and you're right, nowhere near as good as Disney/etc... BUT, the food is first rate compared to the other NASA visitor centers I've been to (USSRC/Huntsville, JSC) with the exception of the cafeteria at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi... that one is excellent. Of course they're moving everything not on the bus tour off-site, so I'm sure that's history by now (or soon will be). Compared to JSC's "Space Center Houston" the KSC food is practically cordon bleu...

My final gripe was they are constantly hitting you up with pictures to sell you. I did end up buying one of my daughter from the shuttle launch experience as it was actually a cute picture (they photoshop your head onto a space suit). I think it was like $16..
Yeah, we did that too... Again, it's the same at all the visitor centers... heck the theme parks are the same way now... At JSC you have to get a "security photo" as you line up to wait for the tram tour, and then of course when you get back you have to go through a tunnel filled with hucksters trying to sell you the photoshopped "security photo" they took of you an hour before... not interested... We DID get the one at KSC... it was actually pretty good (Keira in a space suit).

You could easily spend two days at the visitor complex and still miss stuff, especially if you take an extended bus tour. I've never been to the astronaut hall of fame, but I'd be willing to bet that is another half day at least.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. If we go again next weekend I'll post another update.
We spent a half-day in the astronaut hall of fame, and if you want to really read everything and let the kids go wild with the interactive stuff at one end of the building (right before you exit to the gift shop/book store) one could really spend the better part of a day in there... maybe more if you really peruse the books and stuff...

Found some TERRIFIC books that you usually don't see elsewhere at the gift shops (KSC and AHOF) but I won't pay their markup... I just took pics of the covers where I could see the title and author clearly and then look for them on Ebay or Amazon... MUCH cheaper!

Later! OL JR :)
 

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,617
Reaction score
158
Found some TERRIFIC books that you usually don't see elsewhere at the gift shops (KSC and AHOF) but I won't pay their markup... I just took pics of the covers where I could see the title and author clearly and then look for them on Ebay or Amazon... MUCH cheaper!
I've discovered that the books at the KSC gift shop (and at the store in the Orlando airport) are sometimes autographed by the author and/or subject even if there's no sign or sticker saying so.

-- Roger
 
Last edited:

James Duffy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
927
Reaction score
197
then they go install "self checkouts" (which I for one refuse to use... when I get a 10% discount for checking out my own stuff, I'll use them) and spend a ton more money to install all that crap... just to avoid having to pay someone $5.50 an hour to sit at a register... Height of stupidity...
I admit that I'm about to explore a very off-topic avenue here, but what's wrong with installing self-checkout machines to save on labor costs and reduce employee theft? From a technical standpoint self-checkout is really no different than purchasing online, and I'll bet that you do that with reasonable frequency. With one employee overseeing a number of self-checkout points of sale, the company is then free to redeploy the cashiers to other tasks, or simply reduce labor costs. What's wrong with that? It certainly serves the interests of the only people that really matter in this issue, the company's shareholders.

When the self-chckout point of sale systems first began appearing about a decade ago, I recall reading that a single system paid for itself in 4-6 months of operation. That figure is probably lower today due to improvements in technology. Walmart is run by smart people, and they would not be installing the systems if it did not yield a measurable return on investment.

Besides, being a cashier at a Walmart is almost certainly a crap job.

James
 

RoyAtl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,364
Reaction score
15
Location
Atlanta Metro
I'm thinking of visiting KSC early next year, and looking for recommendations. This would be my first visit. I see there are 5 different bus tours, including a "Mega" tour, all run by http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/, I presume that's the official/only one. Tickets are at http://www.ksctickets.com/. The "Then and Now tour" looks up my alley. It isn't entirely clear what overlap there is between the different tours, and what can only be seen when on tours. I'd certainly want to see Atlantis, Saturn V center, Rocket Garden, Astronaut hall of fame, Early Space Exploration. I hope to have two days to dedicate to the area.

No tours of CCAFS anymore, according to http://www.afspacemuseum.org/visit/, except via KSC.

When are you going? If you can coordinate it to when NARCON happens it might work out better for you.

Yep, I think the Visitors Center tours are the only game in town, though NARCON's organizers might know of others (I don't think any of them are on TRF). Then again, I think the Astronaut HOF is a separate entity.

So, get on the road to the Visitors Center, but first stop on the right is the HOF. After that you drive another mile or two to the Visitors Center. That's where Atlantis and the Rocket Garden are. And that's where the tour buses board for Saturn V Center and other tours. I have no idea how to get to the AFSM from there, though my friend who is a NARCON organizer drove me there after the STS-134 liftoff.
 
Last edited:

jadebox

Roger Smith
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
5,617
Reaction score
158
When are you going? If you can coordinate it to when NARCON happens it might work out better for you.

Yep, I think the Visitors Center tours are the only game in town, though NARCON's organizers might know of others (I don't think any of them are on TRF). Then again, I think the Astronaut HOF is a separate entity.
Public tours of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are offered occasionally, but appear to be on-hold right now due to the government cuts.

The Astronaut Hall of Fame and Museum is a part of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, though it's located a few miles from the main campus of the complex. I think there are plans to move the museum to the main campus.

-- Roger
 

Delta-IV

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,071
Reaction score
2
Public tours of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are offered occasionally, but appear to be on-hold right now due to the government cuts.

The Astronaut Hall of Fame and Museum is a part of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, though it's located a few miles from the main campus of the complex. I think there are plans to move the museum to the main campus.

-- Roger
A must do see is the Astronaut Hall of Fame. I do see a lot of visitors just drive past on their way out knowing they couldn't had seen it on the way in. A real loss in my opinion.

I am attaching some photos I took today, SLC-39A is rapidly coming apart. Another loss of historical rocketry places.

-Carl-

IMG_20131112_103000_581[1].jpg


IMG_20131112_094405_464[1].jpg


IMG_20131112_093620_647.jpg


IMG_20131112_094335_723.jpg


IMG_20131112_094341_591.jpg


IMG_20131112_103331_010.jpg


IMG_20131112_110246_772.jpg
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
I admit that I'm about to explore a very off-topic avenue here, but what's wrong with installing self-checkout machines to save on labor costs and reduce employee theft? From a technical standpoint self-checkout is really no different than purchasing online, and I'll bet that you do that with reasonable frequency. With one employee overseeing a number of self-checkout points of sale, the company is then free to redeploy the cashiers to other tasks, or simply reduce labor costs. What's wrong with that? It certainly serves the interests of the only people that really matter in this issue, the company's shareholders.

When the self-chckout point of sale systems first began appearing about a decade ago, I recall reading that a single system paid for itself in 4-6 months of operation. That figure is probably lower today due to improvements in technology. Walmart is run by smart people, and they would not be installing the systems if it did not yield a measurable return on investment.

Besides, being a cashier at a Walmart is almost certainly a crap job.

James
Totally off topic, and don't really want to debate it here...

Of course stores can do whatever idiotic things they want... it's called "free enterprise". Doesn't mean I have to like it, agree with it, or support them.

Some folks love self-checkout, some hate it. I'm in the latter group. In all honesty, I haven't used one since not long after they first came out... I used them at the grocery store we typically shopped at right after I got married when I still lived in Nashville, TN... they sucked then and I personally haven't seen any improvement, nor do I care to. I haven't noticed the prices of anything in the stores that use self-checkout going down to reflect their lower labor costs, therefore it is of NO value to me... to heck with the stinking robber baron shareholders and other scumbags making money for doing nothing...

I see NO reason to do a job that the store should be doing for them for free... If I got a discount, I'd CONSIDER using them. Otherwise, they can pound sand. It has nothing to do with "employee theft" or whatever (that's what loss prevention is for; if they're having issues with that, there's two reasons-- 1) the store has lousy hiring practices and/or 2) LP isn't doing their job... neither one of those issues is any problem of mine... sounds like lousy management to me...) If it's a "crap job" its because the company doesn't do anything to make it better, and aren't willing to pay someone to do a good job... (My sister used to be a checker with K-Mart, and I agree that it's a "crap job", mostly because of p!ss-poor company policies).

As for online sales, totally apples to oranges comparison there that makes ZERO sense... The regular retail stores, especially electronics stores like Best Buy and others, and of course the local hobby shops and hobby chains with brick-n-mortar stores, are having their @$$ handed to them for a hat by online retailers... Wonder why that is?? Perhaps it's because you can get better service and lower prices on the exact same stuff without the enormous markups and crap from the local vendors... Hmmm... maybe that's it...

If you like the self-checkouts, more power to you. I don't, and that's MY RIGHT!

Later! OL JR :)
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
When are you going? If you can coordinate it to when NARCON happens it might work out better for you.

Yep, I think the Visitors Center tours are the only game in town, though NARCON's organizers might know of others (I don't think any of them are on TRF). Then again, I think the Astronaut HOF is a separate entity.

So, get on the road to the Visitors Center, but first stop on the right is the HOF. After that you drive another mile or two to the Visitors Center. That's where Atlantis and the Rocket Garden are. And that's where the tour buses board for Saturn V Center and other tours. I have no idea how to get to the AFSM from there, though my friend who is a NARCON organizer drove me there after the STS-134 liftoff.
The ONLY tour of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is via the "Then and Now" tour departing from the NASA KSC Visitor Center, and there are some requirements that have to be met to get on that tour, as well as paying the requisite fees... (passports for all foreign visitors children included, full photo ID for all US citizens (except kids) see their website for full information). Since it's a USAF installation, these requirements are in place as security precautions. They also restrict photography, in that NO photography is allowed from inside the bus-- ONLY at designated tour stops from outside the bus. The tour goes from KSC across the river to CCAFS, through the central area, where the guides usually talk about the various historic hangars from the old days, including Hangar S where a lot of NASA activity took place from Mercury on to the shuttle days... Past the SRB segment storage bunkers, and on to the Pad 5 blockhouse and museum and rocket garden. You can tour the museum and rocket garden, and go out to Pad 5, and tour the Pad 5 blockhouse from which Al Shepard was launched in his Mercury Redstone Freedom 7 back in 1961. Then the tour goes past the Delta pads, up past the landing strip for the cruise missiles from back in the 50's, and they past the silo where the remains of Challenger are buried. Then the bus proceeds up "pad row" along the roadway and stops on the roadside leading out through the brush to Pad 14 (IIRC) where the Mercury Atlases were launched-- there's a memorial there made out of stainless steel from an Atlas booster and a plaque and time capsule at the roadside. Unfortunately the Air Force does not allow the tour buses to go down the actual access road to the blockhouse and pad site for whatever reason... as our tour guide said (a retired NASA engineer) it's really shameful that the AF doesn't allow folks to experience this part of their own history, even if it is in disrepair... after all, nobody's talking about going inside the blockhouses or allowing folks to run around the abandoned/scrapped pads... Then the buses proceed up past Complex 19 (IIRC) where the Gemini-Titan's were launched from-- again, a billboard "memorial" lists the Gemini missions and crews that were launched there. Again, the bus is not allowed to go down the access road to see the actual site, which like the Atlas pads is back far enough through the scrub brush so that it cannot be seen from the roadway... sad. Then the bus proceeds to Pad 34, where they ARE allowed to drive the bus down past the blockhouse and park on the access road leading up to the pad. The tour is allowed to disembark and walk across the site to the old concrete hardstand that the rocket would have sat upon-- the tower and remaining facilities were cut up and scrapped decades ago, but the concrete hardstand remains as a memorial to the Apollo 1 crew. The blast deflectors remain where they were parked, just off a pair of railroad tracks upon which they moved under the pad, sitting abandoned about 100 yards away. With the ocean visible just past the dunes a couple hundred yards to the east, it is a very quiet, fitting memorial, not only to Apollo 1, but in many ways to the space program of that era... an era long gone. The hemispherical half-buried blockhouse a few hundred yards away speaks to the highly dangerous nature of the undertaking at that point in time, and the empty cable trays and stripped foundations and bare concrete bear witness to the complexity and former glory of the place, the importance of it to the undertaking, now long gone, abandoned and largely forgotten... After a short presentation discussing Apollo 1 and what happened there, and a few minutes for photography and reflection, it's back on the bus and past the neighboring Delta IV building/pad road entrance (you can see the buildings but not the pad itself) and then back across into Kennedy Space Center. The tour bus also stops at the Cape Canaveral lighthouse and the nearby office building where Von Braun's office at the Cape was... the bus doesn't stop to disembark, but the guides pointed out his corner office window to us...

The museum and rocket garden at CCAFS is accessible to the public ONLY via the "Then and Now" tour. They have built a "heritage museum" or something at the south entrance to CCAFS just past the cruise ship terminal down by Cocoa Beach, just outside the south gates on adjoining property. I heard (or was given to understand) a few years ago that the intention was to move the contents of the rocket garden and the rest of the museum itself off-base outside the gates to the new museum. I'm not sure if that's still the plan at some point or not, or if that was even the plan itself at all or if I misunderstood. At any rate, I didn't get to go to that facility at the south gates during my trip out there last summer, so I don't know how extensive or comprehensive (or lack thereof) it is. Sad thing is, most of the really historical stuff is inside the grounds of CCAFS, like Pad 5, the Atlas and Gemini pads, and of course Pad 34... so if the "Then and Now" tours stopped folks would have NO WAY of even getting that close to these historical places... it's a shame, because those places ARE really historical. Their state of preservation is pretty awful, judging from Google Earth (since you cannot see the Atlas or Gemini pads any other way) and perhaps that's why the AF is reticent to allow folks in there... surely there's nothing "secret" that could be learned, given the age of the technology, and especially in the setting of a tour... Of course the old Mercury Control was torn down a few years ago-- apparently the building that served as "Mission Control" for all the manned Mercury flights and the first manned Gemini mission, Gemini 3, before the Mission Control (MOCR) was completed and came online at the Manned Spacecraft Center (JSC) in Houston for Gemini 4, had apparently deteriorated badly over the decades, first from lack of use and maintenance, and then from the ravages of the weather, humidity, and salt all working to destroy the concrete-- apparently the building had gotten swamped with moisture and had rotted from the inside out, moldering and mildewing beyond saving, so it was stripped of anything historic that could be saved, and demolished. Many of the historic hangars are going the same way-- deteriorating and being demolished. Sad, really...

The Astronaut Hall of Fame (AHOF) was founded by the Mercury 7 foundation a decade or so ago (or thereabouts). They bought private land adjoining KSC (on the west end of the causeway-- everything on the east side of the causeway is NASA/CCAFS property) and built the AHOF. There's a lot of artifacts there, including a recreation of the Mercury Control Center which was demolished on CCAFS. It's well worth a visit and included in the entry price of the KSC Visitor Center... Lots of neat historical artifacts there (including Wally Schirra's "Sigma 7", among many other things, and all the way up through the shuttle and ISS era). They also have a terrific book store/gift shop. They have a 1:1 shuttle model outside as well, but it wasn't open when we were there...

Anyway, it's interesting how all that works out. I understand security, but some of the stuff is just paranoia... Basically the AF doesn't want any museums or visitor centers inside the grounds of their bases anymore from what I can see... They moved the National Atomic Museum off of Kirtland AFB in NM years ago-- we went to the interim museum location downtown when we went to NM several years back-- they've now moved into their new location further out of town. When we toured the White Sands Missile Range museum/rocket park, basically they moved the base entry gates back and fenced out the museum. Same thing with the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, KY... So it's not really that difficult to see that the AF would like to totally block off all public access to CCAFS if they could... hence the "outside the south gates" museum and the fact they aren't running tours anymore-- and I sort of got the idea from the guides on our tour that basically the AF just "tolerates" the NASA tours... and I agree with our tour guide, that it's "shameful" that the AF won't honor the history any more than they do, or the public's right to experience it...

Anyway, such is life...

Later! OL JR :)
 

luke strawwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
9,139
Reaction score
14
A must do see is the Astronaut Hall of Fame. I do see a lot of visitors just drive past on their way out knowing they couldn't had seen it on the way in. A real loss in my opinion.

I am attaching some photos I took today, SLC-39A is rapidly coming apart. Another loss of historical rocketry places.

-Carl-
Interesting...

I know they have no money to turn 39A into a "clean pad" for SLS (if there is an SLS, which IMHO remains to be seen) but I thought they were pretty much leaving it "as is" for the "21st Century Space Complex" deal and planned to rent it to whatever commercial space companies that might choose to perform launches out there. I've heard that's one big piece of the puzzle that's missing-- how to support manned commercial launches, because NONE of the EELV/SpaceX pads at CCAFS are equipped to handle or support manned crews and crewed vehicles. Modifying them for such operations would not be cheap, either, so if the towers, white rooms, pads, and such existed at 39A and could be modified for particular vehicles wanting to use them (similar to how the Saturn V pads were modified to support the Saturn IB, via the "milkstool") then that would seem a cheaper and easier way to go than building all new facilities or heavily modifying satellite launch facilities not designed for manned operations over on CCAFS's pads...

Of course if NASA can make a bit of coin off renting the facilities, so much the better-- certainly better than letting them sit there and rust into oblivion... Course I haven't heard much about any takers yet, either...

Later! OL JR :)
 
Top