The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will close Nov. 2, 2015, at its current location in preparation for a new, next-gen attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Heroes and Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The visitor complex broke ground on Heroes and Legends back in May 2015 and is scheduled to open the new attraction in late 2016. The Early Space Exploration building closed on Sept. 28, 2015, to be transformed into the new attraction.

Heroes and Legends not only will bring to life the enthralling stories of America’s pioneering astronauts, but also invite guests to vicariously experience the thrills and dangers of America’s earliest missions through high-tech elements and special effects, including simulated holograms.

The highlight of Heroes and Legends is a 3D omnidirectional theater, designed to make guests feel as though they are floating in the vastness of space. Stunning images will envelope them as legendary astronauts, including Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Jim Lovell, and Neil Armstrong, invite them to join in their epic journeys into the vast unknown. The new Astronaut Hall of Fame will serve as the culminating element of the attraction, allowing guests to interact virtually with nearly 100 astronaut heroes inducted to date.

“Bringing the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and its educational programs to the visitor complex will allow a larger audience to explore the amazing achievements of the astronaut heroes who are members of the hall of fame,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “The mission of the visitor complex is to inspire minds of all ages through memorable space experiences, and the new Heroes and Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will immerse our guests in some of the most inspirational and remarkable space experiences in the world.”

Located just inside the entrance and adjacent to the Rocket Garden, Heroes and Legends will be the first stop for guests as they make their way into the visitor complex, setting an upbeat and inspirational tone for their entire experience.

Heroes and Legends is one of many additions and enhancements taking place at the visitor complex. Other new offerings and experiences include:

“Journey To Space” 3D film
The new “Journey To Space” film showcases NASA’s bold plans for the future, including landing astronauts on Mars and capturing asteroids – painting a clear picture for viewers that “NASA’s next era will be its greatest yet.” Through extensive interviews with astronauts Chris Ferguson, commander of the final shuttle mission, and Serena Aunon, a new astronaut chosen for future flights, as well as narration by film and television legend Sir Patrick Stewart, the film gives a sweeping overview of NASA’s past space accomplishments, current activities and future plans.

Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted
Through hands-on simulators and interactive experiences, the new Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted attraction invites guests to see how one day soon humans will explore the Red Planet and what challenges lie ahead for deep space travelers. The nation’s most comprehensive permanent Mars attraction features the “Explorers Wanted” live show with real-time updates on NASA’s Mars-bound vehicle, the Space Launch System and the Orion capsule, as well as exciting simulators and displays, including a full-size Orion heat shield and a host of Mars rovers.

Science on a Sphere
Gaze down upon the magnificence of Earth as only astronauts have done before at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s new Science on a Sphere exhibit. Using computers and video projectors, the six-foot-diameter sphere is transformed into a brilliantly lit animated globe, illustrating for all ages the many facets of Earth and planetary sciences. Developed by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Science on a Sphere can demonstrate complex environmental processes such as atmospheric storms and climate change, allowing these phenomena to unfold before guests in an entirely captivating way. Just as easily as the giant, glowing orb can transform into Earth, it can also become the moon, Mars, or any other planet, giving guests an up-close look at the intricate workings of our solar system.

Fly With An Astronaut
This thrilling half-day invites guests to experience the highlights of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including a ‘flight’ on Shuttle Launch Experience, alongside a veteran NASA astronaut. The experience includes a small group tour of Kennedy Space Center, including a drive past the Vehicle Assembly Building and a photo opportunity at the LC-39 Observation Gantry, a guided tour of the Apollo/Saturn V Center, and much more. Fly With An Astronaut is offered on select dates and availability is limited. Cost is $199 for adults; $174 for children ages 3-11, including daily admission and a private buffet lunch overlooking Launch Complex 39.

Rocket Launches
Only at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex can guests can enjoy up-close rocket launch viewing for multiple launches throughout the year. Upcoming launches include:
  • October 30, 12:07 p.m. – A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the 11th Global Positioning Satellite (GPS IIF-11) for the U.S. Air Force.
  • December 3, 6 p.m. – See a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket as it lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the second Cygnus cargo mission, OA-4, to the International Space Station.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers the closest public viewing of launches for most 2015 launches (dependent upon time of the launch and other operational factors).

PHOTOS: © 2015 DNC Parks & Resorts at KSC, Inc. All rights reserved.

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