Theme parks are a great way to add excitement to any holiday vacation in Central Florida, but when a historical event takes place at the same time, the excitement launches to a new level…literally. Tomorrow’s launch of a Delta IV rocket is the first spaceflight for NASA’s new Orion spacecraft. Orion will take humans farther into space than they’ve ever gone before!
Not only is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex all decked out for the holidays, it is also filled with camera crews, special interactive displays, models of Mars and Orion, as well as special guests. Correspondents, experts and writers will be providing tourists with an insight into their experiences as they cover past launches and this historic event. Rarely do you get to have an experience like this and have it included in regular admission!
If you want to spend an additional $20 to get closer to the launch, you’ll have to get up very early. Buses begin transporting guests at 3:00 a.m. (until 6:00 a.m.) for the Apollo/Saturn V Center where the launch pad is just a few miles away. At this special viewing location, you’ll experience the powerful sights and sounds of the historic launch. View the live launch countdown and hear commentary from NASA experts. Even at the Visitor Complex viewing location (included with admission), the coverage will be extensive.
After the early morning launch (schedule for December 4, 7:04 a.m.) enjoy all the attractions this theme park has to offer. A 41-foot Christmas tree and Holiday Rocket Garden Light Show are just a few of the extras you’ll enjoy during the holiday season. There is plenty to do and see during the 4.5-hour Orion flight. Coverage will continue as the spacecraft reenters Earth’s atmosphere at speeds near 20,000 mph! Orion will land in the Pacific Ocean where the U.S. Navy and NASA will recover the spacecraft.
If you plan to visit KSC later in December, there is plenty of exciting things to see and do. From December 22-31, a 3-D projection mapping presentation will be shown on the side of the 223-foot-long Saturn 1B rocket. The show takes guests through NASA history, including the first launches to the moon, the space shuttle program, assembly of the International Space Station and other developments. Then from December 26-31, a Holiday Laser Light Spectacular will be shown at dusk.
Always check the KSC web site for details concerning a launch. The date, time, and viewing opportunities are always subject to change. Launches can be affected by technical and mechanical issues as well as range operations and weather, either in advance or at the last minute. The mission is not without risks. View this video to see what NASA is up against during this amazing launch!
While we enjoy the holiday season, hopefully NASA will be busy gathering all of the information collected during this exciting holiday launch. Perhaps its next voyage will include a crew! These journeys certainly fill the need for peace and hope for humankind. Go Orion!!