It’s 3…2…1… at NASA’s Visitor Complex at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Launch Experience.
This authentic $60 million launch simulation opened last year, taking visitors on their own journey of the space shuttle’s voyage to Earth’s orbit. Under the guidance of NASA and veteran space shuttle astronauts, this unprecedented experience duplicates the sights, sounds and sensations of launching into space fully vertical in launch mode position.
Shuttle Launch Experience, three years in the making, will take visitors through the sensations of launching into Earth’s orbit from the birthplace of U.S. space exploration – Kennedy Space Center. A team of astronauts, NASA experts and renowned attraction designers conceived this authentic ride experience, deploying sophisticated motion technology, special effects seats and high fidelity visual and audio presentations.
“Shuttle Launch Experience will forge a lasting impression for everyone, especially those who have seen the power of a shuttle launch and imagined the adventure of flying in the most complex machine ever made,” said Daniel LeBlanc, Chief Operating Officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “Not only will guests experience the thrill of launching into space, they will marvel at the view of Earth from space, through state-of-the-art technology.”
Shuttle Launch Experience combines the detailed accounts of astronaut experiences with the expertise of premiere design engineers to produce a ride unique to theme parks around the world. The attraction’s technical highlights include authentic simulation of the space shuttle’s eight and a half minute launch into orbit, custom-designed crew pods with unprecedented vertical range, high-definition audiovisual effects, and advanced seating effects to maximize the reality of the experience.
The journey begins as visitors enter the Shuttle Launch Simulation Facility, architecturally inspired by space shuttle facilities at Kennedy Space Center. As visitors ascend along the gantry, astronaut testimonials set the stage for what is to come. Entering the heart of shuttle operations for the pre-launch briefing, crew members are guided by veteran Shuttle Commander Charlie Bolden as he takes them step-by-step through the launch sequence. They then enter the crew pod in the shuttle’s cargo bay and strap in for launch. For the next five minutes, the pod’s 44 passengers see, feel and live the trip to 17,500 mph. As the shuttle bay doors open, what follows is a breathtaking view of Earth seldom seen in the first person.