For the first time in the 50-year history of Kennedy Space Center (KSC), NASA on Friday will begin allowing public visitors to tour one of the launch pads from which the space shuttles and Apollo Saturn V moon rockets were launched.
The KSC Up-Close: Launch Pad Tour takes visitors inside Launch Complex 39.
Visitors will travel nearly a quarter-mile inside the perimeter security fence to Launch Pad 39-A, from which a majority of space shuttles and all six Apollo missions that landed on the moon were launched. Near the launch pad, visitors will exit the tour bus for photo opportunities, including close views of the 350-foot-high fixed service structure, rotating service structure, propellant storage containers, water tanks that feed the noise suppression system, flame trench and other aspects of the launch pad complex.
“Visitors will travel the same route as astronauts to the launch pad, so they can imagine being an astronaut,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The tour then drives by Launch Pad 39-B, site of launches for the Saturn 1B/Skylab missions and of many space shuttle launches. It is now being modernized for launching NASA’s new Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket for future missions to carry astronauts into deep space.
The Launch Pad Tour will run through the end of 2012 with a limited number of daily tours.
“These are all very rare opportunities,” Moore said.