SPACE tourism, once only seen in the realms of science fiction, moves a step closer next week as NASA launches the first in a series of missions that will one day see men back on the moon.
All eyes are on the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the planned September 27 launch – but did you know you can already take a tourist trip into space from Spaceport KSC?
That’s one of the many attractions at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, in which guests can gather on the concourse of a galactic spaceport, ready for flights to the stars.
Visitors can experience the future of space travel at Kennedy thanks to the new Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex® and explore further galactic experiences.
In the Spaceport, you’ll hear the atmospheric chatter of an airport, watch launches and landings through the windows, and check destinations, departure and arrival information.
Guests then board “spaceships” – it’s thanks to the hi-tech trickery of a two-storey motion theatre – for one of four virtual journeys: Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet or Uncharted Worlds.
Each distinct destination allows for the possibility of a different experience with each visit. Next week, though, it’ll be for real as the Orion spacecraft and rocket lift off for the Artemis 1 mission.
The Gateway attraction celebrates the space programme with a wealth of NASA and commercial spacecraft hardware plus immersive displays, hands-on experiences and more.
Travellers enter a futuristic setting, ready for their journey, and are surrounded by actual flight-flown artifacts and full-scale models, set around the floor and suspended from above.
Exhibits include a “nose-to-nose” view of the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, and a 30ft floor-to-ceiling ‘Robotic Space Explorers’ interactive wall with touchscreen displays.
You can also visit the HoloTube presentation station to learn about the James Webb Space Telescope by manipulating holographic imagery, video and animation through a touchscreen kiosk.
There’s an IMAX® 3D Film titled Asteroid Hunters and narrated by
Daisy Ridley – best known as Rey in Star Wars – which ventures into deep space for a look at asteroids, their origins and the potential threat they pose to our world.
Kids will enjoy the fully-immersive, multi-storey Planet Play experience, where they can learn fun facts as they play among the planets in the solar system.
Last, but by no means least – and the highlight for many – is the chance, twice daily, to chat with a real-life astronaut in a Q&A session where you can ask just about anything.
Then, of course, there’s the icing on the cake.
Guests just might be lucky enough to witness crewed and uncrewed launches, given that the likes of SpaceX, Boeing and United Launch Alliance take off throughout the year.
For full details and a calendar of events, head to The Kennedy Space Center site.