The public visitor center at Kennedy Space Center first opened in 1967 and had 500,000 visitors that year. Now it gets more than 1.5 million guests per year. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Visitor Complex offers the chance to view artifacts of NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs in the context of exhibits and attractions that tell the NASA story.
Since 1995, Delaware North has operated the Visitor Complex as a NASA contractor. The 70-acre facility was redeveloped and enhanced with an IMAX theater, the Shuttle Launch Experience, Astronaut Encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours. In 1996 the Apollo/Saturn V Center has been renovated with immersive multimedia experiences about Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. Later a memorial to the Apollo 1 astronauts was added. In 2013 a new exhibition opened around Space Shuttle Atlantis. In 2017 the Heroes and Legends exhibition opened with a theater and a new home for the Astronaut Hall of Fame. In early 2018 KSC Visitor Complex opened a state-of-the-art education center with immersive astronaut training experiences.
KSC also offers online lesson plans and videos through its Kennedy Online Outreach & Learning (KOOL) Science program.
Under Delaware North, the KSC Visitor Complex is completely funded by visitor-generated revenue and no U.S. tax dollars are used.