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  Kennedy Space Center tours: Today and Tomorrow (Up Close) and Then and Now

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Author Topic:   Kennedy Space Center tours: Today and Tomorrow (Up Close) and Then and Now
4allmankind
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From: NJ
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posted 01-11-2006 07:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 4allmankind   Click Here to Email 4allmankind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What are the differences between the Then and Now tour versus the Up Close tour?

I just booked my car, flight, and hotel for a solo March "pilgrimage to mecca", and was wondering which tour I should book?

Also, how early in advance should I book my tour?

Ben
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From: Daytona Beach, FL
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posted 01-11-2006 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The NASA Up Close tour includes the Space Station Processing Facility, where you can watch the actual ISS components being processed from a viewing area above them and behind glass.

The Then and Now Tour (the best) includes a tour of Cape Canaveral by bus and a stop at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum. They drive past every active and unactive pad, though without stopping, including 39, and drop you at the Saturn V Center at the end. It includes everything except the SSPF as above.

Regardless, you should chose one of those two tours over the main tour for the full experience. They are both the main tour with the added features (SSPF or Cape side).

Ben
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From: Daytona Beach, FL
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posted 01-11-2006 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh...and for booking? The Then and Now tour only runs once per day, and should be booked in advance. The Up Close tour runs I believe three times daily and you shouldn't have a problem getting on it the day of.

User997
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posted 01-11-2006 07:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for User997     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I visited KSC in September, and I took the Up Close Tour.

As mentioned previously, they take you to the ISS Processing Facility, drive pass the VAB building, Pad Crawler, Misson Control, and the Press Area, then stop at an observation deck about a mile from Pad 39B; then you drive out to the Shuttle Landing Facility, and the tour concludes at the Apollo Saturn V Center where you can get up close and personal with several moon-era hardware.

It was well worth the extra money to see the tour, but I also regret not having time to go on the Then & Now Tour as well. I'd highly recommend doing both.

You can find a review for it here.

Ben
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posted 01-11-2006 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, they both end at the Saturn V Center (I didn't mention that for the Up Close in my first post). That is why they are both "the main tour plus..."

If you only have time for one I would do the Then and Now, there is so much more to see and you will feel fulfilled at the end.

RocketmanRob
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From: New York City USA
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posted 01-11-2006 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RocketmanRob   Click Here to Email RocketmanRob     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I took the Then and Now tour about a year and a half ago and was surprised when the bus stopped at Pad 34. What a great experience as I had tried for a number of years to get out to the pad with no luck. I definitely recommend tour.

If I remember correctly, they also wanted you to sign up a few hours before as they did a background check. U.S. residents needed to show drivers licenses and foreign visitors passports. Perhaps this is due to some of the tour passing through Air Force property.

mikej
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From: Germantown, WI USA
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posted 01-11-2006 09:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We visited in June '05, and the Then and Now bus stopped (and we were allowed to get off the bus) at the Air Force Museum, Pad 5/6, and Pad 34 (we were actually off the bus for quite some time at Pad 34).

The bus also "stopped" at Pads 14 and 19 long enough for us to read the signs (although we were not allowed off the bus).

We purchased the tickets for the extra tours upon arrival at KSC each day (we got there a few minutes before it officially opened). We took the Then & Now twice and the Up Close once.

The Up Close and the Then and Now tours are timed so that you can't go on both of them in a single day.

drscoop
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From: Macclesfield, UK
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posted 01-14-2011 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drscoop     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wondered if someone can let me know if the Then and Now Tour is an out-and-back, or around trip type tour?

I was particularly wondering if there was a better side of the bus to sit on for photography? If it's an out and back, this isn't an issue, but if the bus just goes southbound past the pads, for example, the left hand side would seem to be a better bet...

Thanks for any advice.

FullThrottle
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posted 01-14-2011 09:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FullThrottle   Click Here to Email FullThrottle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When at KSC for the first STS-133 launch attempt, I was fortunate enough to take both tours, and my experience was slightly different than above.

As far as a side of the bus to sit on, I'd say the right side you will get slighly better pics, but the bus does stop at a lot of spots to get good pictures, and it does turn back almost the exact way you came in so both sides of the bus do get a good view.

When I went in Nov. 2010, Then and Now was the "better" of the two tours (in my opinion). We started at the USAF missile museum for maybe 20 minutes on each half of the museum. Then went over to the first Mercury pad/control room and got to walk around for 20 minutes or so while the guide talked. We stopped at the Cape Canaveral lighthouse, got out for about 10 minutes for pictures... The bus stopped at the Gemini-Titan launch pad for us to get out about 10 minutes. We stopped at the Mercury 7 memorial and got out about 10 minutes... Then, finally, I got to see LC-34 site of the Apollo 1 fire. We spent about 20 minutes or so allowed to wander the entire paved area of LC-34 and the surrounding area.

My only complaint would be that I felt rushed at LC-34... It's a place of memorial, yet to see everything there in 20 minutes and soak it into your brain is time constraining. Not to mention trying to get pictures of the pad without people in the picture. My advice there would be to linger around slightly away from the bus, when they start to call everyone back, don't listen and stay put for a few more minutes while everyone wanders back. If you try to be one of the last ones on the bus you will get awesome pictures with nobody standing around underneath the pad!

Added edit: Oh, entirely forgot, the tour guide actually mentioned the Challenger burial site as we drove by... couldn't see much from the road other than some metal poles in the location, but very surreal to know that the Challenger rested 100 feet from where I was sitting!

drscoop
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From: Macclesfield, UK
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posted 01-14-2011 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drscoop     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's really helpful - thanks very much.

Daft clarification - I should have specified what I meant by left hand side, i.e. left hand side when seated. Did you mean right hand side when seated, or when boarding? Thought it was worth asking...

I was specifically planning to do the "Then and Now" tour on my upcoming visit, but later noted that my visit coincided with the slated launch of STS-134, which I guess may have precluded the running of the trip. However, I see this has just been pushed back again to April 24th 18th (Ed.). Whilst somewhat disappointing (as a launch viewing would be fantastic), at least this should mean the tour will hopefully be running on the very limited two days I have in the area.

Given this, the up to date info on the tour content is therefore very much appreciated. I presume from your comments that you got to go into the old blockhouses at both Complex 26 and Complex 5/6? Additionally, I note from above that the tour is described as "the main tour plus..." and includes a drive-by of LC-39. Does this mean it also takes in the LC-39 observation gantry?

For interest, I found an interesting collection of images from the tour. While these are a little dated now (2004) do these pretty much reflect the current (Nov. 2010) contents of the tour?

Apologies for the barrage of questions... and thanks again for your input.

GACspaceguy
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From: Guyton, GA
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posted 01-14-2011 12:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have taken the tours many times and the "Then and Now" tour is the best, especially since they have added the drive by of Launch Complex 14 (LC-14).

They drive by LC-39 on the perimeter road so it is not a stop but it is much closer than the gantry.

Yes you do go into the old blockhouses at both Complex 26 and Complex 5/6 and spend some time at the museum there. Typically they point out the Challenger silo but it is just the white cap of the silo that is seen.

I believe the side opposite to the bus driver is best but in some cases the driver side is better. The silo is easier to see on the driver side, but that is about it, unless you are into light houses and the Cape Canaveral light house is a better view on the driver side as well.

I have not taken the Up Close Today and Tomorrow (Ed.) tour in a few months so I will defer to those who have. I was told last November when we were there for the first launch attempt of STS-133 that the ISS building is not on any tour any more. Also with a shuttle on the pad and the other pad being disassembled I do not know if they stop at the viewing area between the pads anymore so you should check on that before you decide.

My money has always been on the "Then and Now" tour though.

FullThrottle
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From: Seattle, WA, USA
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posted 01-14-2011 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FullThrottle   Click Here to Email FullThrottle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most of what I would have replied with was said above...

When I say right side of the vehicle, I mean in car mechanic terms how you'd order a part. (As if you are sitting inside the car looking out the front window). I remember verbally saying "Ah, us lefties are getting screwed on the tour" just as the bus was turning back the other way for the driver's side to see whatever we were looking at.

The "Then and Now" tour does a drive-by of the observation gantry on its way to the Air Force base.

If you want to stop at the gantry just take the (included with admission to KSC) trip to the Saturn V center... it stops at the observation tower on its way out to the Saturn center.

The "Today and Tomorrow" tour does stop at the observation area between LC39a/b pads. That was awesome! You're just over a mile from the pad... I was fortunate that when they scrubbed 133 for the final time I was able to see Discovery on the pad, which would have been an empty pad by the next weekend when I was scheduled for the tour.

One thing I do recommend is buying your ticket ahead of time. Near a launch all the tours are booked up!

Also, if you decide to take both tours, as I did, what I found out is that it is cheaper to buy the KSC yearlong pass and then buy both tour tickets with the discount.

As a first time trip (like myself) I'd recommend taking both... but, if you can only do one make it the Then and Now!

All tours stop at the Saturn V Center at the end.

tegwilym
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posted 01-14-2011 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do the normal free tour, and the "Then and Now". I went on the "Up Close" years ago and I think the main difference was that they took you a beach viewing area between the shuttle pads, closer to the VAB (if I remember right) and the shuttle runway.

Both are excellent tours, but the other one gets you to all the old historical stuff.

mjanovec
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posted 01-14-2011 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Then and Now tour is also the tour I recommend the most. I've now taken the tour twice and they have been pretty consistent about the route they take and what you'll see (or drive by):
  • SRB recovery ships (from a distance)
  • Air Force Hangers (including Hanger S)
  • Pad 26 (Explorer 1), including the blockhouse
  • Pad 5 (Mercury Redstone), including the blockhouse
  • Cape Canaveral lighthouse
  • Pad 14 (Mercury Atlas)
  • Pad 19 (Gemini)
  • Pad 34 (Apollo 1 and Apollo 7)
  • Saturn V Center

Since the tour of the Cape is done in one large counter-clockwise circle, many of the sights will be on the right side of the bus...especially Pad 14 and Pad 19.

On one tour, the bus stopped outside of the lighthouse and Pad 14, but never allowed you to get off the bus. On my second visit, we were allowed to get the bus at the lighthouse and the Pad 14 monument for photos. For Pad 19, both tours I took was just stopped a mere few seconds to view the sign on ICBM Road, before they drove off to Pad 34. (Maybe they figured that Gemini just doesn't interest most people.)

In contrast, for the first tour I took, you were allowed to roam around Pad 5 (and the Redstone displayed there). On the second tour, the pad itself was off-limits. (The blockhouse was open for both tours, however.) Sometimes I think it depends on the tour guide and the driver.

Also, when you stop at Pad 26, don't spend too much time in the museum next to the blockhouse (though it does contain some interesting items, like the Gemini capsule for the one MOL flight). Be sure to take at least a few minutes to walk around the rocket garden nearby. The Pad 19 white room is sitting out there and you can walk inside of it (if they leave the door open). It's interesting to compare the spacious Pad 19 white room (for Gemini) against the fairly cramped Apollo white room (which can be seen at the rocket garden back at the Visitor's Center).

I have a Flickr page showing some of my photos from my November 2010 visit to KSC. The Then and Now tour photos start with photo 059 and end with photo 085. (Note: I didn't post any photos from the Saturn V Center for this trip, since I had already visited it multiple times before.)

drscoop
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From: Macclesfield, UK
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posted 01-15-2011 06:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drscoop     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is all really useful stuff. Thank you very much.

To put some of this into context, I managed to get out to KSC back in 2005 and I took the family on the "Up Close" tour as I thought my son (only 4 at the time!) would more relate to the ISS facility, the VAB and pads, etc., and the other family we went with would prefer this to "looking at a load of old concrete" ...heretics!!

I've wanted to do the "Then and Now" for some time but also would like to see LC-39 again on the same trip; I had assumed I'd need to squeeze in the normal tour to do this, but if the "Then and Now" also stops by the observation area (I assume the one by the coast?) or at least drives by then this makes my scheduling much, much easier.

As per the recommendation, I will indeed book the tickets in advance; I'm just awaiting the confirmation of timings on a couple of other things I need to sort out whilst I'm in the area but want to get this all sorted out well in advance; to fly all the way over from the UK and then not be able to get on the tour would be very distressing!

sfurtaw
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From: Saginaw, MI USA
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posted 01-17-2011 07:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sfurtaw   Click Here to Email sfurtaw     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We took the "Today and Tomorrow" tour on Nov. 27, 2010 because of the A/B Camera Stop between 39A & B and Discovery was on Pad A. The stop puts you behind the pad giving you a great view. The LC39 Observation Gantry is in front of the pad. With the Rotating Service Structure covering Discovery, this only allows you to view the top of the tank and the SRBs. If a shuttle was not on the pad, I would not have opted for this tour.

GACspaceguy
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From: Guyton, GA
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posted 01-18-2011 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Below are some photos that I have taken on the Then and Now tour.

Jack Juka
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posted 03-28-2011 08:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jack Juka   Click Here to Email Jack Juka     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If anyone does the Space Center at the Cape, do the Air Force tour. The Apollo 1 launch pad looks like this. Great for photos.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

tegwilym
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posted 03-28-2011 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's a great tour. I went on it years ago, and tried again when I went to STS-133. Didn't get in since it was sold out. I wonder if there is any advantage to buying tickets first thing in the morning at the Astronaut Hall of Fame rather than the visitor center main entrance?

I've been giving advice to a friend that is going to the next launch and giving suggestions.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-28-2011 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tegwilym:
I wonder if there is any advantage to buying tickets first thing in the morning at the Astronaut Hall of Fame...
The Astronaut Hall of Fame is no longer open in the morning.
Beginning Monday, March 28, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will be open from 12 to 6 p.m.

Jack Juka
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posted 03-28-2011 08:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jack Juka   Click Here to Email Jack Juka     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I took my daughter with me. She's in college now. Actually she graduated with a degree in Math. Now she wants to teach. So I never got to really go overboard taking photos. You know how parents embarrass their kids? That's me.

The rust in this photo made a nice effect. I will go back again for sure. I love that place. Heck, I even moved from Pennsylvania to Titusville. Right across from the VAB.

People are leaving town and I'm moving in. Seems crazy. I hope they continue the space program. In fact, the two guides seemed pretty adamant that this was just the beginning and not the end. That seems to be a loaded question in the community though. Oh well, I hope I see a ton of launches in the future.

intrepid12
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From: decatur,il
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posted 03-30-2011 10:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for intrepid12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How was a person able to get inside the VAB and the shuttle processing facility?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 03-30-2011 11:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are no public tours that provide access to the inside of the Vehicle Assembly Building or one of the Orbiter Processing Facilities.

Access to one or both is limited to NASA-arranged VIP tours, press tours or annual employee open houses (the latter includes the limited ability to employees to bring friends, but the open houses are not planned as "open to the public" events).

All times are CT (US)

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