Go behind the scenes at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), America’s gateway to space for more than 50 years. The KSC Up-Close Explore Tour takes you beyond the regular KSC Bus Tour and makes several stops where you can capture once-in-a lifetime photo opportunities.
It’s no accident that some of KSC’s most historically significant buildings are along your tour route, including NASA’s KSC Headquarters, which has been in place since 1965, as well as the new headquarters building now under construction. You’ll see the newly renamed Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building, where astronaut crews spent the final days before their flights and departed for the launch pads aboard the Astrovan, as well as the International Space Station Processing Facility, where components of the ISS were built before being ferried into space in the space shuttle’s cargo bay.
You’ll get an idea just how expansive Kennedy Space Center is as you stop along the NASA Causeway alongside the scenic Banana River, where you can get a panoramic view of KSC as well as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Here, dozens of launch pads, both active and inactive, dot the horizon. If it looks like a prime spot to watch a rocket launch, that’s because it is – you’ve stopped at the viewing area reserved for NASA VIPs. The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) stands proudly in the distance, making a great focal point for photos, as does Launch Pad 37, where Delta IV heavy rockets, including the one that carried the Orion spacecraft on its first test flight, have lifted off.
Next you’ll head to the heart of KSC, the 525-foot-tall VAB growing larger and larger as you draw near. It’s inside these high-bay doors that the Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttles were stacked and prepared for launch, as will be the next crewed space program, the Orion capsule aboard the Space Launch System (SLS). A stop in front of the VAB gives you plenty of time to snap photos in front of this iconic American landmark.
One of the highlights of your tour is a drive around Launch Pad 39B, one of two pads used for every space shuttle launch from 1981 to 2011 and now modernized for its new job of launching the SLS. You’ll see the pad up close then stop at a scenic location nearby, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and pads 39 A & B on the other side. As you continue exploring KSC, the images you’ve seen on TV and movies suddenly come to life as you drive past the Launch Control Center, the NASA Press Site and new countdown clock.
Along the way, your tour guide will share plenty of intriguing historical facts about the sights you’re seeing – countless other vehicles, buildings and structures crucial to current and past operations, including the Shuttle Landing Facility where space shuttles returned from orbit, the umbilical launcher platform that will be used to support SLS, the 8-tracked crawler transporter that will carry the vehicle to the launch pad and 8-lane wide crawler way on which it will slowly make its way at 1 mile per hour. Your space expert also will give you real time updates on what’s happening at KSC that day and answer questions about the space program. As part of your tour, you’ll receive a booklet filled with maps, images and diagrams explaining some of the sights you’ll see along the way and detailing some of the programs currently taking place at KSC.
Throughout your tour, you are surrounded by the natural beauty of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and more than 500 species of birds and animals that make their home here.
As NASA grows closer to once again launching crewed vehicles into space, many of the areas on the Up-Close Explore Tour will become off limits. Don’t miss your chance to explore where America’s space program began and discover for yourself where it leads next.
This bus tour concludes at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Tour Length: 2 - 2.5 hours
KSC Up-Close Explore Tour Cost
- Adults: $25 per person, plus tax, in addition to daily admission
- Children (age 3 - 11): $19 person, plus tax, in addition to daily admission
If you plan on purchasing more than one guided tour or purchasing a tour and Lunch With An Astronaut, we strongly suggest you upgrade to an annual pass and plan for a multiday visit. Due to time constraints, multiple tours cannot be taken in the same day.
Call 866.737.5235 for reservations or more information. Available 8 am - 6 pm.
Kennedy Space Center is a working launch facility. As a result, all tours and times are subject to change with no notice. All KSC Up-Close tours are offered for a limited time only.