Living in Florida provides certain opportunities and pleasures unique to this state. Of course, we have our beaches, 567 to be exact, with over 1146 miles total beach length according to the Environmental Protection Agency. We have mega theme parks that thrill our millions of yearly visitors, and yes, the weather is pretty much ideal year-round, minus those pesky hurricanes. But one of the most spectacular sights the human eye can behold, that signature streak of light across our skies signifying the enormous achievements man has made in space travel, can be yours to witness first hand if you are a Floridian. Our narrow peninsula even lets those of us on the Gulf side catch a glimpse of the smoke trails left behind after a rocket’s launch.
But nothing quite compares to sitting in a viewing area right at Kennedy Space Center during launch time. Getting caught up in the thrill of the countdown and witnessing spacecrafts blast off into the skies right before your very eyes might be the excitement your summer needs.
Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sarasota. You could leave early, take in the multiple attractions at KSC, and be back home to sleep in your own bed the same night. But if you are arranging your trip to coincide with a planned launch, then the best bet is to consider lodging options in the area which includes numerous hotels along with RV parks, many which offer tent camping. Cape Canaveral itself is full of KSC employees and families, so chances are your hostess at the mom-and-pop diner, guide on the boat tour, or lifeguard likely has ties to the space industry.
Visiting KSC is a unique day of fun, learning, and excitement for your family. Admission prices range from $40 for ages 3-11 and $50 for everyone over 12. Several popular attractions including Astronaut Encounter, IMAX Theater 3D films, U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, Shuttle Launch Experience, and the Rocket Launch Viewing (when available) are included with the price of a daily ticket. Numerous additional shows and exhibits are also included so you are guaranteed a full day’s worth. You can customize your visit to include Lunch with an Astronaut, Astronaut Training, and more. If you have a budding space enthusiast, the sky is the limit (pun intended) for what your child can experience including the opportunity to spend half of a day with an experienced astronaut, exploring KSC.
There are discounts for those in the military and seniors, and discounts for multiple day visits as well. Annual passes are offered for $71 (ages 3-11) and $89 (12 and up) and include free parking and savings on additional tickets, food and retail. An upgraded Explorers Annual Pass is $109 (ages 3-11) and $139 (12 and up) and includes Lunch with an Astronaut, KSC Explore Tour, and a collectible souvenir. Popular summer camps fill up fast, so you may want to plan for Summer, 2019. Parking for the day is $10 and you can bring in small, soft sided coolers. Food and drinks are also available for purchase inside the KSC complex.
Although the launch viewing area is included with the price of a daily admission, there are special launch sites that visitors can access for additional fees when they are being used. Costs for viewing launches at the LC-39 Observatory Gantry are $49, Apollo/Saturn V Center is $20, and admission to launches at NASA Causeway is $40. As launch sites and times are determined by several factors, these off-site locations allow viewers several opportunities to observe a launch. To feel the roar of the rockets as they blast off into space thrills the viewer to their core. There is nothing quite comparable to seeing a rocket launch, nothing you can experience on earth, in any video game or movie. The educational value is priceless, and the inspiration of the American spirit will fuel your kids as they journey back to school. The next launch is planned for August 4 so it’s time to set your countdown clock to make sure you get your plans underway and arrive in time. The question is, can your summer handle that much excitement? For more information on upcoming rocket launches and visiting Kennedy Space Center, please visit www.kennedyspacecenter.com
Photos courtesy of Kennedy Space Center website.