If you have ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut, why not bring that dream to life by visiting Kennedy Space Center in central Florida.
Just a short drive from Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers a unique opportunity for you to tour launch areas, meet a veteran astronaut, see actual rockets, train in a spaceflight simulator, or even view an actual rocket or shuttle launch. It's all part of the amazing adventure that awaits you.
The Shuttle Launch Experience provides an exciting journey that allows you to feel what it's like to launch yourself toward space. Strap yourself in and experience the sights, sounds and sensations of a real Space Shuttle launch.
After entering the heart of Space Shuttle operations for a pre-launch briefing, you'll be guided by veteran Space Shuttle Commander Charlie Bolden as he you step-by-step through the shuttle launch sequence. Brilliant video screens spring to life on shuttle-like robotic arms. Anxious moments arise as atmospheric sound and lighting effects dramatize the moments before your space shuttle launch. Then hold on and enjoy the ride!
You can also travel back in time and history with a visit to the NASA Rocket Garden. Dramatic lighting brings historic NASA rockets back to life, including the Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space. You can climb aboard Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules - and get an idea of the cramped quarters America's astronaut pioneers endured.
Then return to today's space age and climb aboard the International Space Station. This fascinating attraction gives you an up-close glimpse inside the actual facility where NASA prepares the real components of the International Space Station - the largest, most complex structure ever to be placed into orbit.
In an elevated observation room, you'll see the actual processing bay where each Space Station component is checked out, processed and readied for its trip into orbit.
After the observation room, you can enter a full-scale mock-up of the Habitation Module and see how Space Station crew members live, sleep and work.
In Space Shuttle Plaza, you'll find a full-sized NASA Space Shuttle replica - Explorer. See for yourself how astronauts live and work aboard real Space Shuttles. You'll also find other components needed to launch NASA Space Shuttles such as a huge external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters.
Next to the Space Shuttle Explorer is the Launch Status Center, where visitors receive live briefings on NASA's ongoing launch and space flight activity.
On a more somber note, the Space Mirror Memorial, designated as a national memorial by Congress and President George Bush and dedicated in 1991, honors the 24 U.S. astronauts who gave their lives for space exploration.
The names of the fallen astronauts from the Space Shuttle Columbia, the Space Shuttle Challenger and Apollo 1, as well as the astronauts from training and commercial airplane accidents are emblazoned on the monument's 42-1/2-foot-high-by-50-foot-wide black granite surface as if to be projected into the heavens.
For more information about Kennedy Space Center and all of the Orlando area theme parks and attractions, please visit http://www.OrlandoThemeParkVacations.com. For discount Orlando hotel and resort accommodations or discount Orlando vacation packages, go to http://www.WestgateReservations.com/sweepstakes.cfm.
by Gregory J Nelson