Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will soon be offering a special, limited-time, limited-capacity program called “Fly With An Astronaut” in which guests can spend a thrilling half day experiencing the highlights of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including a ‘flight’ on Shuttle Launch Experience, with a veteran NASA space shuttle astronaut and pilot. Limited to just 43 guests per day, this opportunity will only be available between April 2 and April 6, 2015.

The program includes admission to the Visitor Complex as well as a morning of tours and activities guided by astronaut Jon McBride. One of many highlights of the day is the opportunity to “fly” on Shuttle Launch Experience with McBride, who served as the pilot of STS-41G aboard space shuttle Challenger and is a former naval aviator who has logged more than 8,800 total flight hours, 4,700 of those hours in jets. 

The experience also includes a catered buffet lunch at the Apollo/Saturn V Center; a panoramic photo stop at the Launch Complex (LC) 39 Observation Gantry, which is otherwise not accessible to guests; an autographed photo of the guest with the astronaut hero; and a retail gift.

“We are proud to offer this extraordinary opportunity to guests who want to learn about and experience America’s space program through the eyes of an experienced, veteran NASA astronaut,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer for Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “What better way to engage and inspire guests of all ages, particularly our future space explorers, than to offer them a chance to ‘fly’ aboard a shuttle with an actual space shuttle pilot, see actual spaceflight opeNanrations areas, and hear firsthand his personal recollections of life in space?”

Fly With An Astronaut participants will meet at Space Shuttle Atlantis at 9:30 a.m. each day for a “preflight” briefing and individual photo with McBride – and then the countdown begins! The newly recruited “crew members” will enter Shuttle Launch Experience to find out what it feels like to launch into space aboard a shuttle traveling 17,500 mph – with an experienced NASA astronaut and space shuttle pilot at their side.

“I’ve ridden plenty of launch simulators and I’ve been at the controls of a real space shuttle, so I can tell you that Shuttle Launch Experience is the closest thing to a shuttle launch as you can get without actually leaving Earth,” said McBride. “I’m looking forward to sharing that exhilarating experience with guests who want to come and ‘fly’ with me and spend a few hours learning more about Kennedy Space Center and the past, present and future of our space program from an astronaut’s perspective.”

Participants will then board a bus with McBride for a private tour of Kennedy Space Center, including a drive past the Vehicle Assembly Building and a stop at the LC-39 Observation Gantry. Here, McBride will share stories of his launch aboard space shuttle Challenger and his astronaut experiences as guests take advantage of panoramic photo opportunities of KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the distance.

The next stop is the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where participants will enjoy a guided tour with McBride, followed by a catered buffet lunch. During lunch, guests will receive a printed photo of themselves with McBride and have an opportunity for him to autograph it. At the end of the tour, at approximately 1:30 p.m., guests will receive a retail memento and will be free to continue touring the Apollo/Saturn V Center or board a bus back to the Visitor Complex.

The new, limited-time, limited-capacity program is $199 for adults; $174 for children (ages 3-11), including Visitor Complex admission, a catered lunch, an autographed photo and a retail gift. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex annual pass holders may purchase the program for $149 per adult or $134 per child (ages 3-11)

Seating is limited; for reservations, please call 877-313-2610.

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