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NASA’s Space Shuttle Program is rich with 30 years of innovative technology and advances in space exploration. The Launch Director Tour of Space Shuttle Atlantis® with Mike Leinbach gets you up close to this incredible period in NASA’s history. See space shuttle Atlantis with her last launch director, Mike Leinbach, and learn about the risks and rewards of the Space Shuttle Program from an insider. The tour begins with a walking tour along the incredible spacecraft from nose to engines. From there, blast off in the Shuttle Launch Experience®, putting yourself in the seat of an astronaut launching into low-Earth orbit. Finally, visit Forever Remembered, the memorial honoring the astronauts who lost their lives in space shuttle missions STS-51L Challenger and STS-107 Columbia. Mr. Leinbach will offer a unique insight as he led the Columbia Reconstruction Team after the tragedy.

All guests will receive a digital picture and a signed lithograph of Mr. Leinbach. You will also be able to purchase his book Bringing Columbia Home from the retail shop located at the exit of Space Shuttle Atlantis, with the opportunity to have Mr. Leinbach sign your copy of his book. In order to receive a high quality digital picture, guests are encouraged to not wear green shirts on the day of their tour as our on-site photographers use green screens.

Ticket and Tour Information:

Ticket Information:
Space is limited to 30 participants, so reserve your space early!
Please note: guests must be a minimum of 44 inches/111.76 cm to ride the Shuttle Launch Experience.
Minors must be accompanied by a participating, paying adult over the age of 18.


Tour Dates and Times:

The tour is offered select dates throughout the year. On each date, tours run twice a day at the following times:
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM*
1:30 – 4:30 PM

Please meet Mr. Leinbach and the rest of your tour group outside the main entrance of Space Shuttle Atlantis 10 minutes before your tour.

*Guests taking the 9:30 AM tour should not reserve Dine With An Astronaut due to time constraints. Please take the 1:30 PM tour if you wish to also add Dine With An Astronaut to your day.

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About Mike Leinbach

Mike Leinbach was the final Space Shuttle Program Launch Director at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC). He was responsible for overall shuttle launch countdown policy, planning and execution activities for the final eleven years of the program.

Mike joined NASA in 1984 as a structural engineer working on launch pad upgrades for the Space Shuttle Program. He became the Deputy Director of the International Space Station program office at KSC in 1998, and became the Shuttle Launch Director in August 2000. He led the Launch Team for all Shuttle missions from then to the end of the program in 2011, serving as the person to give the final “Go” for launch.

Mike led KSC’s forces in the initial Columbia debris recovery effort in Texas and Louisiana in February 2003 immediately following her catastrophic accident and loss of seven astronauts. Shortly thereafter, he led the Columbia Reconstruction Team to determine the cause of the accident from the debris collected and reassembled at KSC. He was the driving force behind the Columbia Preservation Team and the initiative to lend debris to industry and academia to develop better and safer spacecraft in the future. His book, “Bringing Columbia Home,” tells the inside story of the mammoth effort of the 25,000 Americans that helped find Columbia’s debris and reconstruct it.

Attraction Details
  • Add on Available as an Add-on Enhancement
  • Hours icon Allow 3 Hours
  • shopping icon Shopping available at Shuttle Express gift shop
  • reserved Advance reservations are required
  • Elevator Elevator available
  • page detail Wheelchair Accessible
  • page detail Map

Kennedy Space Center Explore Tour

Rocket Garden

Dine With An Astronaut

Plan Your Mission
Children interacting with touch panels in the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.


Just as every successful launch requires a pre-launch checklist, so does your visit to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Make the most of your adventure with the best information to plan your visit.
All exhibits are subject to change and tours may be altered or closed due to operational requirements or launch preparations.