Special Interest Tours Offered For A Limited Time At KSC
For more than 30 years, tour buses have driven guests past the
525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at Kennedy Space
Center, pointing out the massive building in which Apollo V
rockets, and later, space shuttles, were assembled for launch. But
only a select few, including astronauts, NASA officials and space
center personnel, have ever had the opportunity to go inside the
building – until now.
For the first time since 1978, guests at Kennedy Space Center
Visitor Complex will have the chance to disembark their tour buses
and tour inside the VAB to see firsthand where monstrous vehicles
were assembled for launch, from the very first Saturn V rocket in
the late 1960s to the very last space shuttle, STS-135 Atlantis,
earlier this year.
The opportunity to visit the VAB will be offered for a limited
time to a limited number of Visitor Complex guests per day as part
of KSC Up-Close, a new two-hour, guided special interest tour.
While inside the VAB, guests will be able to walk along the edge of
the Transfer Aisle, which is kept open to move behemoth elements of
rockets among the four High Bays within the building. Tour
communicators will provide a brief overview of the VAB and the work
Meanwhile, plenty of signage depicts the incredible engineering
feats that have taken place behind these 456-foot-tall high bay
doors, such as the work of the VAB's two 325-ton bridge cranes that
were used to lift the shuttle orbiters and mate them to their
external tank and solid rocket boosters with pinpoint accuracy.
Signage also shows prospective operations that will take place
within the VAB for NASA's newest space exploration program, Space
Launch System, or SLS. Banners signed by thousands of KSC workers
showing support for each of the space shuttle missions proudly
remain on display throughout the VAB.
The VAB tour stop is just one part of the two-hour guided KSC
Up-Close tour. During the first portion of the tour, guests will
have the opportunity to view Kennedy Space Center landmarks
including NASA's KSC Headquarters and the Operations & Checkout
building (O&C). Next, guests may disembark at the NASA Causeway
for a panoramic view of the Banana River, Port Canaveral and Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, home of the first rocket launches of
the Mercury and Gemini programs.
The tour then travels into the heart of Kennedy Space Center,
where guests will pass by the three Orbiter Processing Facilities
(OPFs), the hangars where shuttle orbiters were processed and
maintained between flights. Following a stop inside the VAB, guests
will re-board their bus for views of the massive Crawler
Transporters and "Crawlerway," the equivalent of an eight-lane
highway lined with river rock and designed to support the crushing
weight of the Saturn V and space shuttles along with their mobile
launch platforms. Guests will disembark at Camera Stop A/B –
one of the hilltop sites from which NASA remotely shoots launch
photography and videography with Launch Pads 39A and B on one side
and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The final stop is the
Apollo/Saturn V Center, where dramatic multi-media shows and
numerous hands-on displays provide visitors with an inspirational
and exhilarating look into America's quest for the moon.
Beginning Nov. 1, the tour will be offered eight times daily for
$25 for adults and $19 for children ages 3-11, plus the cost of
admission which is $43 + tax for adults and $33 + tax for children
Making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity even more special,
for a very limited time, guests on the KSC Up-Close tour may see a
space shuttle orbiter inside the VAB as they are being prepared for
display in their new homes in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, D.C. and
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, FL.