Kennedy Space Center is known as the home-port for America’s space program. With the recent mothballing of the Space Shuttle Program, many wonder what will become of the Shuttles, the space program, and KSC. Truth in point; all three are destined for continued greatness.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the actual base of operations for visitors to explore our exploration of space at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, has been home to a mockup of the Space Shuttle (orbiter to be exact), but soon will become home to one of the actual Space Shuttles: Atlantis. At present, Atlantis and her two orbiter siblings are undergoing major overhauls as teams work to clean them and prepare them for their future as museum displays, serving to inspire future generations of scientists, astronauts, and others who work to continue our exploration of the heavens.
At KSC any time of the year, guests can visit key locations and displays around the complex to see up close and personal what our space program is about. There is an additional tour, at an additional cost to the general admission, but well worth the price. (please see our disclosure page, but know that we visit KSC as members of the media) These tours will take guests on visits to areas not seen by the “regular” tour and in the current setup, is visiting the VAB or Vehicle Assebly Building.
In conjunction with NASA, KSC has added the VAB to the tour, allowing guests to step into this most-famous of space-related buildings, home to the assembly of everything from the Apollo rockets to the Shuttle systems. Huge and dominating on the horizon, this is the capstone of a KSC tour, allowing guests to literally step into history.
Think of the scene in Apollo 13 where Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) is speaking to VIP’s talking about the future of space exploration (ironic) while in the background the Apollo 13 craft he’ll soon fly is being fitted together. That is the VAB they’re in.
Remember those TV news shots of giant rockets or the Space Shuttle moving out on the crawler towards it launch pad. That is VAB.
Now guests can step inside that very building and look up – way-high-up – and see where the ships that have carried our astronauts to space have been assembled. Walk in the steps of history and be amazed.
On top of this once-in-a-lifetime chance, if you visit soon, you just may get an up close view of one of the Shuttles being worked on prior to going to its final destination. On our visit, Endeavor was in there and I can assure you, there is something awe-inspiring being that close. When you think of the history, the men and women who dared to fly at such speeds in such places, it can catch your breath for a moment and hasten your heart with excitement.
There is no way to know how long the VAB will be open to tours and how long Space Shuttles such as Endeavor will be on display, but if you can, make your way to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center and see these amazing pieces of our collective history before they’re gone forever.
VAB Tour Plus
The VAB Tour also includes other fun elements such as driving directly past the launch pads where the Shuttles and Apollo programs launched into space, plus the Apollo and Mercury Center where you can learn even more about the program. This tour is well worth the price and will get those with a sense of space and history a little closer to the real deal.