Revisiting Apollo 11 at Kennedy Space Center

Picture this: Neil Armstrong. 1969. The Moon.

The first human’s step onto the surface was a sound we didn’t hear. But the words spoken in the moment were heard around the world. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Fifty years ago, humankind set foot on the Moon for the very first time. A nation celebrated, and the world looked on in wonder.

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center near Merritt Island and Titusville, Florida on July 16, 1969. United States Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. were on board, while almost one million visitors watched from the surrounding Central Florida area. Just four days later, while Collins flew solo, Armstrong, followed by Aldrin, became the first humans to set foot on the moon.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, on Central Florida’s east coast, brings all of this, and more, to life!

Rocket Garden at Sunset. Image credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Included in admission to the Complex is a trip on the famous Kennedy Space Center bus tour. In addition to a tour of the complex, the bus makes a stop at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Inside is an actual Saturn V rocket, like the one used for the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. All three stages of this rocket are visible to visitors, and the entire rocket stretches 363 feet across the Center. That’s taller than the Statue of Liberty! This is one of only three Saturn V rockets that still remain in the United States.

Saturn V Rocket and Engine. Image credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, the Apollo/Saturn V Center at the Complex has added new exhibits that honor and celebrate that historic moment:

● “The Ultimate Road Trip” is an exhibit that explores what life was like inside the command module. Visitors can look inside the real thing and imagine what it was like to work and sleep on the way to, and from, the Moon.

● “Moonscape” recreates the lunar surface of the moon, showing Armstrong and Aldrin planting the United States flag in that iconic July 1969 moment seen across the world.

● The Lunar Theater shows the landing of Apollo 11, but includes a new entrance that is a reproduction of a 1960s-era living room and bar, perfect to set the scene.

● Moon Tree Garden is home to twelve trees, planted to represent the twelve manned Apollo missions.

Entrance Complex. Image credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Top 5 Tips:

1 – A brand new entrance complex opened in 2018. If you visited prior to that, be aware that the previous entrance is now for crew members and deliveries only. The new entrance is on Space Commerce Way. Check their website for specific directions.

2. The Official Guide to Kennedy Space Center is available as a free app. Download this app to browse things to do, create a list of favorites, view the official Complex map, and also see current hours of operation and weather. Free wi-fi is available throughout the Center.

3 – The United States Astronaut Hall of Hame used to be located several miles west of the complex, but has now been moved to the Center’s Heroes & Legends building, so it is no longer necessary to visit two different properties to see the exhibits.

4 – The Complex is home to a giant screen, IMAX® theater which plays different space-themed, large format films each day. Some of the films are in 3D and all of them are included with your admission.

5 – The Center offers additional add-on tours exploring different areas and ideas around space travel. One of them, the Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour, takes visitors on a bus tour to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, including stops at the historic sites from the Mercury and Gemini missions of the 1950s and 60s. These specialty tours are offered at an additional cost.

Kennedy Space Center is located on Central Florida’s Space Coast, near Titusville, and is open every day of the year. You can find out more by visiting their website: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Craig is a Florida native, who has spent over 20 years as a leader and facilitator in the Central Florida travel and hospitality industry. His specialty is storytelling, using it as a tool for service, motivation, and inspiration. He is on a quest to visit all 50 states by road trip, visiting National Parks, lighthouses, and roadside attractions along the way. You can connect with him at @storiesbycraig on both Facebook and Twitter.