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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

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Categories: Attraction, Tourist attraction, Theme parks

Parking: Lot

Admission: $50, $40 ages 3-11.

NASA Kennedy Space Center launch headquarters is located on a huge island wildlife refuge of 140,000 acres. Admission to the center includes tours (reservations suggested for most), the Shuttle Launch Experience, Astronaut Encounter, 3D IMAX space films, exhibits, Space Shuttle Atlantis and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, with historic spacecraft, simulator rides and personal astronaut memorabilia. Note: Visitor Complex is closed certain launch dates.

Even with the retirement of the space shuttle program, dozens of commercial, NASA and military payloads will continue to blast off from Canaveral Air Force Station, and the Kennedy Space Center still offers a day trip for your space-crazed kids.

Visitor tips: The basic tour stops at a launch pad viewing tower and for a photo op outside the 525-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building. Passengers stop at the International Space Station Center where, from an enclosed catwalk, they watch technicians preparing components to be delivered to the station via the shuttle.

For an extra cost, the NASA Up-Close bus tour brings visitors within a few city blocks of one of the two manned-spacecraft launch pads. All tours stop at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where passengers watch an 8-minute film about early efforts in the space program and then enter a room filled with computer consoles at which technicians and scientists sat during early Apollo flights.

This building also holds a moon rock that visitors can touch, a Lunar Rover and an Apollo command module.

All the roundtrip tours start at the visitors center, which has a double IMAX theater that alternates different 45-minute films. Also here are a kid-oriented, multimedia play area, and educational exhibits such as what the Hubbell telescope has photographed.

The Shuttle Launch Experience took years to develop, with input from numerous astronauts, to simulate a liftoff. Find out more about it here.

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