posted December 25, 2010 07:06 AM
I volunteer as a docent for the Air Force Space & Missile Museum, which also runs the History Center.
In response to various questions upstream...
The Museum is different from the History Center. The Museum is the old Launch Complex 26 blockhouse on base. Access is restricted, and docents are present only for the bus tours, so the History Center was opened just outside the south gate to provide the public with another option.
The History Center has a display for every launch complex at CCAFS. Many of them have monitors running videos of archival footage. Some of the displays have artifacts.
The History Center is located in a complex originally built as a graduate engineering school in the 1960s. The Florida Solar Energy Center took it over in the 1970s. Today the three buildings are occupied by Space Florida, the History Center and the SpaceX Launch Control Center.
When SpaceX recently launched the Falcon 9 with the Dragon spacecraft, we saw them outside afterwards celebrating with champagne. It was a unique opportunity to go up and congratulate them on making history.
The Museum has archives, but they're stored in a hangar in the Industrial Area. The Museum recently lost its archivist, so if you're looking for something specific you'd have to submit a request to the Museum director and someone would have to go over to research it.
The History Center has a modest gift shop. Some items are unique, you won't find them at the KSC Visitor Complex. Our prices are typically lower than KSCVC.
Someone wrote about why NASA and the USAF don't "combine their efforts." A long history behind that. According to a 1998 article in Florida Historical Quarterly, when the USAF was first planning the Museum in the early 1960s, NASA was also planning its own museum. NASA declined to offer the USAF any of its artifacts. Keep in mind there was a big rivalry between the two agencies. One was military, the other civilian, and in the 1960s they were competing for limited government funding.
That division continues to this day. KSCVC is profit-driven, operated under a contract with Delaware North. The Space & Missile Museum is operated by the USAF. It has one full-time paid employee. The rest of us are volunteer docents. The Museum has to rely on the Pentagon budget to operate, but also has a separate non-profit Foundation to raise donations. The military can't operate a for-profit entity. KSCVC charges admission. The USAF doesn't.
Obviously there's some cooperation. For years, a bus has run out of KSCVC to tour CCAFS. But quite frankly, there's a lot more demand for tours of KSC than CCAFS. Today, KSCVC runs one tour a day to CCAFS, and it costs an extra $21. The Museum opens its doors for the KSCVC bus and we docents volunteer to lead them through a tour of our location.
But the bottom line is that the two sides have gone their own ways for decades, and I don't think that's likely to change any time soon.
Ironically, with all the commercial launches planned for the next decade (human and cargo), most of the action will return from KSC to CCAFS, so I think we'll see an uptick in our traffic.
I should also note that the Museum is technically part of the Air Force Museum System based in Dayton. They have the authority to take our artifacts (which they have). So any negotiations about NASA artifacts would probably go through Dayton, I believe.
We are a bit off the beaten path and don't get a lot of publicity, so please spread the word. Our web site is afspacemuseum.org.