Thanks to Kennedy Space Center for providing complimentary tickets. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Friends, if you have ever entertained the idea of paying The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Titusville, Florida a visit, I want to make it my special mission right now to convince you that you simply must make it happen. And if the thought has never even crossed your mind, then I want to cause it to go on your travel bucket list, and to get a pretty high ranking, at that.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex BLEW MY MIND and y’all, I didn’t even see it coming. I was excited to go. I had heard that it was really well designed so that visitors of all ages could get something out of it (an initial worry I had was that it would be too “boring” for kids…I could not have been more wrong about that!). And I think space is kind of neat, so I was up for it and thought it was worth the hour long drive from Orlando to check out.
But I didn’t realize just how big of an impact it would have on my kids, and even on me as a parent and a homeschool teacher. I can’t wait to show you some of the amazing things we learned during our visit!
I will echo sentiments you will read on other KSC review posts, which is that you need to give this an entire day. You will be SO sad if you only budget half a day. We were there at opening (they play “The Star Spangled Banner” which is a really moving way to get things started), and we closed them out that evening. We didn’t even come close to seeing it all and we were there on a low crowd day.
The very first thing we did was book it over to the Atlantis to watch a film that really helps you better understand what a mammoth undertaking it was to try to develop a reusable space shuttle, and that showcased failure after failure, year after year. It took 12 years and a countless number of problems and obstacles that had to be faced and overcome by hundreds of brilliant minds working together. It would have been so much easier to have given up, and this was where the message became so very powerful for the kids: these individuals, working together on a seemingly impossible goal, showed up day after day and put the hard work in, refusing to give up in the face of failures and mistakes. And then you get to the see the finished product right before your eyes. My husband, mother-in-law, and I all cried at the sight of Atlantis, and my children were just so giddy to see the fruits of all that labor!
This area also showcases the Hubble telescope and gives you more information on just how critical all of these missions to space have been in providing us with our current way of life that depends on satellite communications so heavily. We didn’t look at everything in this area first because we wanted to catch the first shuttle of the day over to the Apollo and Saturn V Center. It’s easy to come back to, and we didn’t mind doing exactly that!
The bus tour does take about 45 minutes, and kids are provided with a nice coloring book and crayons for the journey, which I thought was a nice (and smart!) touch. Do make sure to use the restroom before you head out because there are no pit stops. This part of our visit was the highlight for my husband. I took the shot seen above because I knew he was having a real moment getting to see the launch areas, and the outside of the building where all the rocket construction actually happens. He really was like a kid at Christmas (also note the photo below, of him on Christmas morning, getting a gift from the Kennedy Space Center gift shop! Same level of happiness!).
Once you are off the shuttle you get to check out the Saturn V and it is so huge, that you really just have to see it to believe it!
This is where we had a delicious lunch and got to see so many more amazing things. It’s also where a retired NASA engineer was hanging out so he could answer questions. Everyone in my family took advantage of this opportunity to learn more about what it’s like to be part of NASA and a team that achieves the impossible. I really loved that Mr. Whitson was available and gave of his time this way. Getting to talk to him made it all that much more real for my kids!
We also watched a great presentation on the moon landing while in this section of the visitor’s center. Don’t miss it, because it was so well done!
Really, I have to give a huge hat tip to all the curators of this facility who tell the story of space exploration in such a compelling way, exhibit after exhibit. After a day at KSC, I understood just how incredibly awesome it is that we put human beings on the moon, in a way that has never clicked with me before. It’s a REALLY BIG DEAL, y’all. And now I’m so pumped up about the work ahead to get to Mars, whereas before I just thought it was “neat.” No, friends. It’s not neat. It’s SOOOOOO AWESOME!!!! And I feel so much more interested in keeping up with the cool things SpaceX is doing, and teaching my kids more about the history of space exploration, as well as the needs up ahead and how they can be part of it, if they develop a passion for it.
We also planned our visit for a day when a female astronaut would be present so that our girls could meet her and maybe even get to ask her a question. Astronaut Anna Fisher gave an incredible talk and though she only had time for one question, we were all SO EXCITED when she picked a little girl, my little girl, to get to ask it (she asked about whether or not she felt scared to go into space and Anna talked about all the preparation she did to get to go, and how that helped her feel more prepared and less scared).
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex is a very exciting place for children as well as adults, and it really leaves an impact that can last for a lifetime. We have gone back to the astronauts and the engineers and the incredible amount of perseverance they all have had to have in order to get into space, and as we face hard problems and challenges in our studies, we remember that we don’t need to fear failure, because that’s still a result that we can work with as we learn and grow. Our main job is to show up and be willing to put in the hard work, just like they did. It has made a big difference in the amount of resilience I can see in my kids and in how I tackle the challenges I face as a parent and a homeschool teacher.
I cannot wait to go back to this place again, perhaps in a few years’ time, to revisit these incredible exhibits and to hear the stories of triumph. If there is any way for you to get to this part of the country for a visit, make it happen. It was simply incredible!