About an hour from
Orlando (and Disneys Tomorrowland) is a place where the fantasy drops away, replaced by awe-inspiring reality. It is here, at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, smack in the middle of a wildlife refuge, that real people, riding real live spaceships, were blasted into outer space on a variety of scientific missions. Nearby Cape Canaveral handles military and commercial launches. On the fringes of this very serious enterprise, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (a separate entity) lets us earthbound types get a peek at this very special world and imagine—just for a moment—what it must be like to be on the cutting edge of tomorrow. Though the space shuttle program ended in 2011, if you time your visit just right you can still see an actual rocket roaring into the heavens.
The Kennedy Space Center (or "KSC" for short) is immense, one-fifth the size of the state of Rhode Island. Only 6,000 of its 140,000 acres are used for operations; the rest is a wildlife refuge. Most people are amazed to learn that this monument to high-tech is home to more endangered species (15) than any other place in the United States except the Everglades. There are also 310 types of birds flitting between the launch pads. Yet over the years, the complex has logged some 3,000 launches. As you might expect, you will only get to see a small sliver of Kennedy Space Center's vastness but the access you are granted is remarkable.
For those who care about such things, I should note that no taxpayer money is used to support the visitor facilities, tours, or other tourist activities at Kennedy Space Center. All of these are run by a private company, Delaware North Parks Services, and are entirely self-supporting.
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