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Kennedy Space Center – Free Experiences & Paid Extras That Are Totally Worth It

Kennedy Space Center Entrance

Planning a day at the Kennedy Space Center

If you are at least a little bit fascinated by space travel, Kennedy Space Center will totally bring out the geek in you!

You can do plenty at NASA’s headquarters. From seeing the Space Shuttle Atlantis up-close, meeting real astronauts and watching a rocket launch live, to space shuttle simulators and 3D IMAX space cinema – it’s all absolutely FREE with general admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

And that’s only SOME of the stuff you can do without having to upgrade your tickets. After that come the extras that you have to pay a bit more to get.

But is it really worth booking those enhancing add-ons? To help you decide, we put together a guide to the FREE experiences and their paid counterparts at Kennedy Space Center.

Meet a real NASA astronaut

There’s something incredibly riveting about coming face to face with somebody who’s actually been into space. Hearing the first-person account of what lays beyond the sky is a captivating experience that you don’t get the chance to do every day.

Here’s how you can meet a real astronaut at Kennedy Space Center:

FREE: Astronaut Encounter

Free with any Kennedy Space Center general admission ticket

  • Live presentation and Q&A session by a real NASA astronaut
  • Shake hands and take a photo
  • Get an autograph at the Astronaut of the Day (located at Space Shuttle Atlantis, Shuttle Express)


PAID: Lunch with an Astronaut

Included with Kennedy Space Center Lunch with Astronaut, Kennedy Space Center Space Pass Plus & Kennedy Space Center Ultimate Space Experience

  • Have a one-on-one chat with a NASA veteran over a meal
  • Have your photo taken with your new astronaut friend
  • Enjoy a chef-prepared buffet meal



Explore life on Mars

These days Mars has become the true star of space exploration.  Kennedy Space Center allows you to take a peek into the inner workings of NASA’s Mars Exploration Programme and even experience life on the Red Planet.

FREE: Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted

Free with any Kennedy Space Center general admission ticket

  • Find out what’s happening at NASA right now with a live presentation
  • Explore the exhibition & see mock-ups of Mars rovers
  • Enjoy interactive games and simulators

Journey to Mars - Kennedy Space Center

PAID: ATX Experience

Requires Kennedy Space Center general admission ticket + ATX Experience add-on ticket 

  • Undergo 5 hours of astronaut training which prepares you for a mission to Mars
  • Learn how to  dock a spacecraft and navigate the Mars terrain
  • Experience what walking on Mars feels like

Space walk simulator Kennedy Space Center

PAID: Mars Base 1

Requires Kennedy Space Center general admission ticket + Mars Base 1 add-on ticket 

  • Spend a full day (7 hours) on Mars Base 1
  • Join the astronaut crew at Base Operations Center on Mars
  • Harvest vegetables in the space lab
  • Program space robots to adapt to the challenges of Mars

Mars Base 1 Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Tours 

Kennedy Space Center covers 570km2 and tells the story of over 60 years of space exploration history. The Visitor Complex hosts the main exhibitions but there are plenty more historic locations to explore, including Launch Complex 39, the Vehicle Assembly Building and Apollo/Saturn V Center.

To see more of NASA’s headquarters, you need to take one of these tours: 

FREE: Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour

Free with any Kennedy Space Center general admission ticket

  • Join a 45-minute guided bus tour of the NASA grounds
  • Drive by launch pads, the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Complex 39 and all of the facilities in between
  • Tour ends at the Apollo/Saturn V Center where you can explore for as long as you like

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour Basic

PAID: Kennedy Space Center Explore Tour

Requires Kennedy Space Center general admission ticket + Kennedy Space Center Explore Tour add-on ticket

Also, included with Kennedy Space Center Ultimate Space Experience & optional with Kennedy Space Center Space Pass Plus* 

  • Go beyond the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour with this 2-hour NASA up-close bus tour
  • Make several stops to capture once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities
  • Get off the bus for an up-close view of NASA’s launch pads
  • Tour ends at the Apollo/Saturn V Center where you can explore for as long as you like

Kennedy Space Center Explore Tour

PAID: Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour

Optional inclusion with Kennedy Space Center Space Pass Plus* 

  • 3-hour tour to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – the birthplace of America’s space program
  • Visit the launch complexes where Mercury 7 and Project Gemini were launched
  • Include the Air Force Space & Missile Museum, the Mercury 7 Monument, and Launch Complex 34, the memorial site for the crew of Apollo 1

Kennedy Space Center Cape Canaveral Tour

PAID: Kennedy Space Center Launch Control Center Tour

Optional inclusion with Kennedy Space Center Space Pass Plus*

  • 2-hour tour to the Launch Control Center and Launch Complex 39
  • Learn about the historic final launches of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program
  • Discover the future of deep space exploration via the Space Launch System
  • Take an inside look at the changes being made for NASA’s Mars programme

NASA Launch Control Center

*Kennedy Space Center Space Pass Plus includes 1 up-close NASA tour of your choosing (3 options available)

Top Tip 1: Kennedy Space Center is an active space facility, so on launch days the tour routes are subject to change

Top Tip 2: Don’t plan more than one tour per day if you want to have enough time to enjoy the rest of the Kennedy Space Center

Book your Kennedy Space Center visit today!

Time to get excited about your day at NASA’s headquarters!

Whether you are happy to discover Kennedy Space Center through all the amazing experiences included with your Visitor Complex ticket, or  you fancy adding something extra to your day,  we’ve got all the tickets you need!

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About the author:

Alexandra Rose is a London based artist and travel enthusiast. She blogs at My and is the woman behind the newly launched brand Alex + Orlaith. When shes not travelling the world Alex can be found getting up to mischief with her four year old daughter or elbow deep in any number of creative projects.

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