Ever wonder what it would feel like to
blast off into space? The Kennedy Space Center is hoping that
America's -- the world's -- fascination with space and space
tourism will boost visitations to its Visitor Complex and the
facility's new $60 million Shuttle Launch Experience.
The new thrill ride
is the largest single development in the visitor complex's 40-year
history as well as one of the most significant debuts at a U.S.
tourist attraction in recent years, according to Kennedy Space
The Shuttle Launch
Experience is also Brevard County's first major theme park-style
attraction, and the ride is expected to provide a boost to the
Space Coast's tourism industry.
For more than a
quarter-century, tourists and space junkies have flocked to the
Kennedy Space Center to watch NASA's space shuttles blast
sophisticated motion technology and sound effects, visitors to the
Kennedy Space Center can play astronaut for a day.
Experience will forge a lasting experience for everyone, especially
those who have seen the power of a Space Shuttle launch and
imagined the adventure of flying in the most complex machine ever
made," said Daniel Le-Blanc, COO of the Kennedy Space Center
The ride is housed
in the 44,000-square-foot, 72-foot-tall Space Shuttle Simulation
Facility, which visitors enter through a gantry walkway.
As visitors ascend
the walkway, they receive a safety briefing and a briefing on the
launch sequence, replete with fog and video effects.
Once inside the
building, they are seated in one of four simulator cabins, each
holding 44 people. Seats will pitch backward to 60 degrees, and a
five-minute simulation with light and sound effects mimics the
acceleration to orbit.
"orbit," the cabins face a large projection and plasma television
screen held on robotic arms. Then the payload bay door opens to
The attraction is
meant to provide both entertainment and education, which Kennedy
Space Center officials said would help set the Shuttle Launch Experience apart from most
thrill rides across the country, including Epcot's Mission:
For example, as
visitors exit the simulator, they'll leave via a spiral ramp under
a star-studded field that takes them through the history of shuttle
flights and the space program.
is the technology. While Mission: Space uses centrifugal force to
create the sensation of increased gravity forces, the Shuttle
Launch Experience uses a pneumatic deflating device in the seat and
seat pitch to create the illusion of increased gravity
Riders must be at
least 48 inches tall to board the ride.
Meanwhile, a number
of hotels are piggybacking on the interest generated by the new
attraction by offering packages that include tickets to the Visitor
Complex. The goal, hoteliers say, is to promote the Space Center
and position Brevard County as a primary destination, not just a
day trip from Orlando.
The Hilton Cocoa
Beach, for example, is offering a Space Break package that includes
two adult admission tickets to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor
Complex. Additional tickets will be sold for a 15% discount at
The Holiday Inn
Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Resort is marketing a two-night package that
includes breakfast, parking and admission for two to the Visitor
Gearing up for an
influx of visitors to the new attraction, the Kennedy Space Center
is spending about $10 million to upgrade the Visitor Center and
make upgrades to the park.
The Kennedy Space
Center said there will be upgrades to its Web site, KennedySpaceCenter.com, to include promotions and
hotel package information.
contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].