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Space – boundless and mysterious – has always fascinated men. And even in the twenty-first century, where flights hundreds of kilometers from Earth have long ceased to be fantastic, few can conquer vast outer space. But getting a little closer to space is available to everyone. That’s why we suggest you go on a trip to the east coast of the Florida Peninsula – Cape Canaveral, which serves as a starting point on the way to outer space.
History of Cape Canaveral
The cape known today on the Atlantic coast was discovered by European researchers a few centuries ago. The first mention of this place dates back to 1521-1525, when Francisco Gordillo’s Spanish expedition arrived on Canaveral. It was the Spaniards who gave Cape his name, derived from the phrase “sugar cane.”
Indian tribes lived at the cape at the time, but very soon they had to leave those lands. Later, several small fishing villages appeared here, where mostly shrimp farmers and catchers settled.
Interesting fact. American authorities have tried several times to get rid of the Italian name of the cape. From 1893 to 1954, it was called Artesia, but then its original name was returned to it. 9 years later, this place was named Cape Kennedy. The initiator of the renaming was the widow of the president, who tragically died in 1963. But she forgot to take into account the opinion of the locals, who were categorically against renaming. After much controversy in 1973, the cape was regained its historical name.
Cape Canaveral was a quiet secluded place until the middle of the 20th century. In 1949, it was noticed by the American authorities. Cape has been recognized as an ideal place to launch space rockets. There were two reasons for that:
- Missile launches are best carried out in the area closest to the equator, and Cape Canaveral meets this condition;
- The area is also sparsely populated and almost completely surrounded by ocean waters, so if launched unsuccessfully, the adverse effects will be minimal.
The base was built quickly, and already in 1950 the first launch of the rocket took place at Cape Canaveral. A two-stage Bumper 2 spacecraft was launched into the air. He was able to reach a record altitude of 400 km at the time.
Later, space launch vehicles and then reusable shuttles began to be launched from here. Until the early 2010s, Cape Canaveral was one of three cosmodromes in the world from where manned spaceships departed. But Space Shuttle flights were completed in 2011, and now such launches are made only in Russia and China.
Kennedy Space center at Cape Canaveral
What can I see?
The main attractions of Cape Canaveral are related to NASA and the American history of space conquest. It’s almost impossible to bypass all the facilities in one day, so it’s better to divide the tour by at least a couple of days or choose the most significant and interesting places to visit.
Especially for tourists who want to learn the secrets of space exploration, the Kennedy Space Center was established at the cape. Everyone can get inside and see amazing exhibits with their own eyes: real rockets, space shuttles, astronaut suits.
Tourists are offered two programs: entertainment and educational. The first is especially interesting for visitors with children, the second is for inquisitive guests who love the mystery of the universe.
We’ll focus on the most interesting must-see points at Kennedy Space Center.
- Rocket Garden
This garden contains huge rockets, which are the most famous in the history of American cosmonautics. For example, there’s Juno I, Mercury-Redstone, Mercury-Atlas, Gemini-Titan II and the huge Saturn IB rocket that served Apollo lunar programs.
- “Start Shuttle” attraction
You can feel like an astronaut at the Start Shuttle attraction. Here tourists are offered a real space flight lasting 12 minutes. During launch, you will understand what real overloads are that astronauts have to experience during launch. And if you look at the portholes, you’ll see the real (well, almost) expanses of space. And, of course, feel a state of weightlessness.
Fun fact: It took 4 years and $60 million to create the “Start Shuttle.” Real astronauts have also experienced an unusual attraction and recognized that all the sensations that visitors experience are as close to cosmic reality as possible.
- 3D cinema
A three-dimensional image at the IMAX cinema will take you to interstellar space. In the cinema hall you can watch a documentary about space exploration. It includes real missions and tasks performed by NASA astronauts, filming their work on video camera.
- Museum of Orbital Shuttle “Atlantis”
Here you can see the first copy of the Space Shuttle spacecraft, which went to conquer the vastness of space. Finding a museum is not difficult: the main landmark at the entrance to the building is a system of solid fuel accelerators designed to put the shuttle into outer space.
Inside the museum, you can see the entire model of a space shuttle assembly. But then there’s more. Visitors find themselves in a huge hangar, where a film about the history of the space shuttle is broadcast. And at the end of the tour, guests will find the main exposition – a real shuttle Atlantis, which performed more than 30 space flights and spent more than 300 days in orbit.
- Pavilion dedicated to the conquest of Mars
Here you can find out not only historical data, but also some information about NASA’s plans to explore the red planet. The pavilion has many interactive stands, design developments and interesting exhibits.
Also, at Kennedy Space Center, it’s definitely worth seeing:
- A lunar pavilion that tells the story of launching a lunar mission and the first landing of a man on the moon. Here tourists will be shown a sample of the lunar surface that was delivered to the ground during one of the expeditions to the moon.
- A pavilion dedicated to the heroes of space exploration. All the main participants of the American space program are gathered here.
Things to do
Exhibition complex at the cosmodrome
After visiting the NASA Museum, you can go on a bus tour of the existing cosmodrome. Needless to say, independent tourists are not allowed there: you can only get to the closed territory as part of an organized group accompanied by a guide.
- Launch pads
The route of the tour runs next to the launch pad LC-39. It was from here that shuttles went into space until 2011. And now this site is leased by Elon Musk’s SpaceX team, where all the launches of his rockets are made.
When planning a trip to Cape Canaveral, study NASA’s launch calendar. This way you can choose the right date to see the launch of a space rocket with your own eyes.
The next stop will be the Apollo Saturn V Center, where you can see the most powerful Saturn V lunar rocket.
Nearby is also a launch pad, from which missiles are regularly soared into space. Neil Armstrong went on his flight from here to be the very first person to take a step on the lunar surface.
Vertical Assembly Building
- Assembly shop
On the territory of the cosmodrome, you can also visit a rocket assembly shop – a building that impresses with its size. It’s so huge that sometimes even clouds form inside! The height of the building is 160 meters (for comparison: the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York is only 93 meters).
It was here, in this very building, that the largest rockets in human history were collected, delivering Appolo’s expeditions to the moon. The structures, 139 meters high, were to be sent to the cosmodrome strictly upright. So, it’s no surprise that the height of the building is so impressive.
- Tracked conveyor
Another attraction of the cosmodrome is a tracked conveyor that transports rockets and shuttles to their launch pads. Today, this miracle of engineering thought is the world’s largest self-propelled vehicle.
What else is Cape Canaveral interesting about?
Beaches and parks
You will be surprised, but the territory of the cape is considered a protected area and is among the top ten places with the status of “National Sea Coast”. And NASA should reckon with this fact. Outside the cosmodrome there are untouched natural expanses, and the local flora and fauna must remain inviolable. There are a lot of panthers, wild boars, deer, bears, raccoons living here in the rainforest, and crocodiles live in swamps and ponds.
However, rest on local beaches is safe for humans. Along the coast of the cape stretches the longest unmaintained wild beach on the entire east coast of Florida. Its length is 24 kilometers. This area is divided into three parts, each of which has its own name: Playalinda in the south, Klondike in the center and Apollo in the north. Access to the southern part of the coast can be restricted during space launches at the cosmodrome. There are more than 300 species of birds throughout the coastal strip, and manatees can be seen in the lagoons along.
Also, at Cape Canaveral, tourists can:
- To go on a gambling cruise on a small motor ship with its own casino on board (entrance is allowed only for persons over 18 years of age);
- Visit the local dinosaur museum, where both children and adults will be interested;
- Visit the outdoor observation deck in the Exploration Tower, which overlooks the Space Center and the port of Cape Canaveral (and don’t forget to have a delicious lunch at the local restaurant);
- Have a look at the port Canaveral and see how huge cruise ships arrive and go.
- Take a few surf lessons;
- To rent a boat or a boat and go fishing or just relax, swinging quietly on the ocean waves;
By the way, the port of Canaveral is the starting point for popular Caribbean cruises. Many Caribbean ships go on a trip from here. And every year, more than 4.5 million passengers board sea liners board this port! If you’re planning to go on a cruise, we’re ready to pick you up from anywhere in Florida and deliver you to port quickly on our plane.
The flight from Fort Lauderdale (the main base airport located 40 miles north of Miami) to Cape Canaveral takes just under an hour, but due to weather conditions the duration of the flight may vary slightly.
On our plane, you can fly to the cosmodrome and see from a height all the main sights of this amazing place. After that, we’ll land at an airfield nearby.
With us, you can go to Cape Canaveral both on a one-day (we fly out in the morning, come back in the evening) and on a two-day tour. If you want to come back the next day, our plane, along with the pilot, will wait for you at the airport. Such a service will cost a little more, but you will have time to slowly bypass all the interesting places at the cape.
- You can’t just fly from Fort Lauderdale. By agreement, our plane will arrive in any city in Florida – Miami, Naples, Orlando, West Palm Beach and others. We can also make individual air multi-day tours, exciting several interesting places in the state.
- For those who want to get even more emotion from the journey, we have prepared a special program THREAUGUL INTENTION: Miami – Cape Canaveral – Orlando. The tour is designed for 2-3 days with departure from Miami. We’ll spend the first day at the cosmic cape and then fly to Orlando. Here you will find famous amusement parks, a lot of fun and adrenaline. Until the emotions cool down, get back on the plane and go back to Miami. We promise you will definitely remember such a trip!