For the first time in more than 30 years, NASA is allowing visitors to the Kennedy Space Center access to the main Launch Control Center (LCC).
The LCC is where NASA directors and engineers supervised all 152 launches for the space shuttle and Apollo programmes. It will now be available in a special LCC Tour, which includes rare access to Firing Room 4, one of the LCC’s four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 space shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled.
Inside Firing Room 4, visitors will be able to see the computer consoles at which engineers monitored the minutes leading up to each launch. The room also contains the main launch countdown clock, large video screens, and the ‘bubble room’, from which the Kennedy Space Center management team viewed all of the proceedings below. The tour also includes drive-by views of Launch Pad 39.
“With so much on the line, the people who worked in this room were under tremendous pressure not only in daily operations but particularly as the countdown proceeded,” said Bob Sieck, former launch director at the Kennedy Space Center. “They had to handle the tension and their emotions as the tests became faster, the astronauts took their place in the shuttle and thousands of people and news media were gathered outside to watch the launch.”
The LCC Tour opens on 15 June and will run until the end of 2012 with a limited number of daily tours. The Kennedy Space Center is located midway between Miami and Jacksonville, on Florida’s Space Coast.