Space center offers upgraded, 'Up Close' tour By BOB MERVINE / December 12, 2000 Share 1 -- CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Kennedy Space Center visitors can now upgrade their experience to include a NASA Up Close tour that provides what the center's visitor complex officials call "an insider's view of America's space shuttle program from launch preparation to lift off." The 90-minute tour is conducted by an authority on the space program and follows, at one point, the same route the astronauts take on launch day.Other highlights include:Space Shuttle Launch Pads 39 A and B. A close view of the structures offers an improved photo location featuring shots of the two pads side by side and the Atlantic Ocean in the background.The NASA Press Site Launch Countdown Clock. It provides a good location for commemorative photos.The Vehicle Assembly Building. This is the second-largest such building in the world, housing each space shuttle before it rolls out.The Shuttle Landing Facility. This is the world's longest and widest landing strip.The Crawler Transporter and Crawlerway. This 8 million-pound vehicle transports the shuttle to the launch pad.The new NASA Up Close tours, which operate daily at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., are more in-depth than the standard tour, which includes a visit to the center's many exhibits and admission to a pair of Imax motion pictures as well as a regular bus tour that visits the LC-39 Observation Gantry, the Apollo/Saturn V Center and the International Space Station Center.Admission to the visitor complex is $24 for adults (defined as ages 12 and older) and $15 for children ages 3 to 11.Upgrading to the NASA Up Close tour costs an additional $20, making the total cost $44 for adults and $35 for children. Group rates are not offered for the tour.Reservations for the NASA Up Close tour can be made up to 30 days ahead by calling (321) 449-4444. Capacity for the tour is 50.However, a space center spokesman said that most of the tours do not reach that size.The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open from 9 a.m. until dusk everyday except Christmas, and on certain launch days.The complex is a 45-minute drive east of Orlando. For more information, contact Alison Musarra, sales manager, at (321) 449-4241 or visit the Web site at www.kennedyspacecenter.com.