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Kennedy Space Center, USA
Kennedy Space Center – USA
The John F. Kennedy Space center is NASA's major base of operations for space vehicle launches. It is one of the few fully operational spaceports in the world right now.
The land at the Kenned Space Center has been in use by government research projects since 1949 when President Truman established the Joint Long Range Proving Grounds at Cape Canaveral. The spot is ideal for two reasons: it allows for launches toward the Atlantic Ocean (in case the launch fails) and its location near the equator gives rockets a significant boost in exit velocity.
Through the 1950's the land was primarily used to test missiles and other forms of rocketry. It wasn't until NASA was founded in 1958 that the site was reserved for space launches. Over the next 40 years, Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center have been the focal point for the American Space Program. The famous Apollo 11 moon landing, countless deep space probes, and the versatile Space Shuttle have all launched from these very grounds.
The Kennedy Space Center is located between Jacksonville and Miami on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. The entire complex including the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base covers over 600 square kilometers. Most of the complex is sparse and flat. Visitors can't access much of the space center as heavy security restrictions are in force. You can take a guided tour on a bus that will allow you to see the Launch Complex, Vehicle Assembly Building, and other key portions of the facility.
There is also extensive museum and visitor's center where most tourists end up exploring. On the museum grounds are a number of historic equipment pieces including some stages (rocket parts) from famous launches throughout the spaceport's history.
Photo opportunities are abound, as most things at Kennedy Space Center are massive in size. You don't really know the meaning of big until you've seen the imposing Vehicle Assembly Building with its huge squat shape that still rises high into the sky.
If you're lucky enough to be around to see a launch, you can do so from one of the designated viewing areas with parking facilities. All shuttle flights have been suspended at the time of writing following the Columbia disaster.