On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on the moon. On April 25, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed, and over the past 20 years, it has captured amazing images of distant galaxies. On Feb. 24, 2011, space shuttle Discovery launched into space to deliver supplies and an experimental robot to the International Space Station.
The United States has a rich and inspiring history in space exploration. This rich history is captured for all to explore at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Kennedy Space Center is a large complex covering 219 square miles on Merritt Island in Florida. The Center features numerous exhibits and hands-on experiences. Visitors can have lunch with an astronaut, tour the Rocket Garden or watch an IMAX 3-D movie featuring pictures from the Hubble Telescope. An especially exciting attraction is the shuttle launch experience simulator, which allows riders to feel what it is like to lift off in a rocket. There is also a museum of early space exploration which details the work of pioneers such as Dr. Robert Goddard who developed liquid propellant rockets in the 1920s and 1930s. The history continues with military rocket development during World War II, and then the “space race” with the Soviet Union during the late 1950s and through the 1960s.
Guests can also tour the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Memorial, commemorating those brave men and women who lost their lives in the name of space explorations. The memorial features a large reflective mirror and displays the names and pictures of those who died in space-related accidents such as the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986 and the space shuttle Columbia disaster of 2003.
For those who enjoy the complex technology of rocket science, behind-the-scenes tours of working space flight facilities are available, through a program called NASA Up Close.
A visit to the Kennedy Space Center is an adventure that you will never forget. After touring the grounds, I found myself having a greater appreciation for space exploration, and for all the people who have dedicated their lives to exploring our final frontier. Space exploration has come a long way. From people touching the moon, to images of distant galaxies, it all awaits you at the Kennedy Space Center.