The Space Coast is not only an ideal destination for a family holiday, it’s also the gateway to the
incredible Kennedy Space Centre complex
Florida’s Space Coast, which includes Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Indialantic, Palm Bay, Viera and Titusville, offers 72 miles of glorious beaches, the world’s largest 24-hour surf shop and robust waves that ensure this is America’s East Coast surfing capital.
It’s also the gateway to the Kennedy Space Centre Complex. Built in 1967 and home to
NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle Programme, which is pivotal to the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, the Kennedy Space Centre attracts more than 1.5m visitors a year. Its narrated bus tours transport passengers to NASA’s restricted areas, passing by working facilities including the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39.
Arriving at Mission Zone:
Race to the Moon, located at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre, I was mesmerised by the exhibits, including the powerful Saturn V Rocket, which has transported every astronaut who has stepped onto the moon’s surface.
I then headed for the Firing Room Theatre to relive the launch of the first crewed NASA mission, which orbited the moon in 1968. The theatre audience faces the actual consoles used during the Apollo launches and leading up to the countdown the excitement is palpable. The viewer experiences the incredible noise as the rocket lifts off from the launch pad and as it blasted into space I wondered how those brave astronauts could stand the fear of the-then unknown.
Hopping back on the bus to Mission Zone: Shuttle: A Ship, Like No Other, I viewed the incredible Space Shuttle Atlantis, which transferred astronauts from
Earth to space and back for 30 years and covered a distance of 126 million miles. Scorched and battered, it is an amazing sight, a vehicle that launches like a rocket and then lands like a glider.
The Shuttle Launch Experience was up next and I strapped myself to a seat to be subjected to the force of a simulated take off. The module rotates to a vertical position and each ‘passenger’ experiences the force of acceleration and vibration as the shuttle launches and soars into orbit. It was simply unforgettable.
Another local attraction of note, which is only a 10-minute car ride away from the Kennedy Space Centre, is the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum on Horizon Drive in Titusville.
Founded in 1960, this building is the nation’s first national lawenforcement museum dedicated to officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Exhibits include an impressive collection of police cars, including one that featured in the film Blade Runner, a replica of a prison cell and a guillotine, which displays a sign warning the viewer not to touch the blade or put their neck under it!
There is also a rope, which was once used for hanging and a wide range of decommissioned fire arms and tools used by law enforcement officers. Additional exhibits include a collection of photographs and artefacts related to notorious criminals such as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Al Capone, Legs Diamond and Baby Face Nelson.
Feeling rather unsettled, I headed for the on-site shooting centre, a regional training
Space Coast Office of Tourism
Relaxing on the Space Coast