See Canada’s Space Shuttle role in person

Canada and the United States have always shared their gifts with each other. Americans visit Canada for our great outdoors and metropolitan cities. And as Canadians, we visit the U.S. for sun, surf and theme parks. Well, add outer space to that list because Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex gives Canadians a look into our unique contributions to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the International Space Station.

Some things like this you just have to see in person. Understanding the mass of NASA’s space shuttle as it rests on the launch pad requires one to stand at its feet and sense the immense proportions of what it takes to send man into space. And launching men into space is an activity in which, once again, Canada and America have teamed up to achieve. Ten years ago, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, installed the Canadarm 2 on the space station during the STS-100 shuttle mission. Other space shuttle astronauts hailing from Canada include Steve MacLean, Julie Payette, Dave Williams and Mark Garneau. All of their stories are told at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and a tour of the more than 19 attractions gives guests larger-than-life experiences of the final frontier and the journey in getting there.

Veteran astronaut heroes meet guests in person and tell the tales of their daunting space missions in fascinating detail at the Astronaut Encounter attraction. What we often see just on a screen, these astronauts have actually lived. Also, a wander through the Rocket Garden places real space rockets within your reach, displaying the history of space exploration in three dimensions. Some of the more famous rockets include the very same Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space. Guests can even climb inside capsules similar to what the astronauts once worked in and get a feel for the cramped spaces involved in space travel.

Shuttle Launch ExperienceOnce ready for lift off, visitors can’t turn down the exhilarating Shuttle Launch Experience, a simulated blast into orbit filled with the sights, sounds and sensations of a real shuttle rocketing into space. Guests excited for more heart-pumping action can zoom over to the giant IMAX theater that recreates the rumble of taking off, too. There, NASA footage of spaceflight soars across the five-story screen with a wondrous wall of sound and 3-D effects.

All-around family fun exists with every attraction but especially at the Children’s Play Dome, the Constellation Sphere and the Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted show and attraction. And the future is filled with new and exciting attractions and events, so visitors can come back to celebrate the Space Shuttle Program again and again.

The final space shuttle launch in late June of this year brings closure to an era which began with rival nations competing for bragging rights, but ultimately ended with 15 nations working together to construct the International Space Station and achieve greater knowledge for the good of all mankind. As one of those nations — and as the contributor of the Mobile Servicing System and its wondrous Canadarm 2 — Canada has etched its own place in the Space Shuttle Program’s history. And with the final three space shuttle launches taking place this February 24th, April 19th and June 28th, it’s time for Canadians to visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and check out the coolest pad on the planet. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime view of a space shuttle ready for lift off — history in the making. A history we’re all proud to share.

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