For years children with soaring imaginations have flocked to the Kennedy Space Center with their parents in tow. Located on Merritt Island, the Space Center is only 20 miles north of Cocoa Beach and 55 miles east of Walt Disney World.
Yes, you can meet an astronaut! Astronauts will frequently host luncheons with visitors and guests can meet veteran astronauts at the daily Astronaut Encounter briefing. Another unique experience is the Astronaut Training Experience. This is a four-hour training package that allows visitors to experience a day in the life of an astronaut. Guests will experience weightlessness, feel the g-forces of liftoff, and don a spacesuit. (Participants must be 14 or older and advance reservations are required.)
For young children under 48 inches tall, there’s the Children’s Play Dome, an interactive exhibit and playground. Guests of all ages will enjoy the five-story IMAX 3-D theaters featuring dramatic footage filmed by NASA astronauts during their missions.
Fun fact: Did you know that astronauts can grow up to two inches taller during extended stays in orbit?
NASA is primarily concerned with the future of space exploration, but they also pay homage to their glorious past. On display at the Apollo Center are the actual capsules that sent astronauts into space during the 1950s and 60s. The hatches have been removed to allow visitors to sit inside the capsules. Sitting inside will make a person realize how brave the early pioneers of space really were.
Many people plan their vacations around launch dates. The next rocket launch is March 1, 2013. This rocket will bring supplies to the International Space Station. The full NASA schedule can be found here: http://www.nasa.gov/missions/highlights/schedule.html
This summer the Space Shuttle Atlantis will be on display when its new 90,000-square-foot interactive exhibit is completed. A video covering the construction progress can be viewed here: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/atlantis.aspx
The Kennedy Space Center is an excellent day trip for anyone regardless of whether they have astronaut dreams or not, and there are plenty of other attractions nearby.