NASA’s famed Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex literally burst into life this evening, kicking off the 2016 Holidays in Space program running there now through New Year’s Day on January 1.
The huge Saturn 1B in the Rocket Garden plays the role of an interactive screen as different moments in space, past, present, and future, are brought to life in a multimedia extravaganza. Features include custom animation blended with historic footage of actual launches, a time-lapse video of the International Space Station (ISS) and a glimpse of a future habitat on the planet Mars.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is operated for NASA and is run by Delaware North. The Holidays in Space program, along with all other exhibits and activities at the travel destination, are entirely funded by visitors. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the complex provides guests with the opportunity 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. Major exhibits include the Space Shuttle Atlantis and a Saturn V rocket; there’s even a moon rock that visitors can touch for themselves.
The Rocket Garden is one of many exhibits at the complex. Visitors can stroll among rocketry from NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Space Expert Guides are also available during daylight hours to guide you through a history of early rocket science in the Garden. But after dark through the holiday season, Holidays in Space comes to life. Included with admission, guests may enjoy the evening spectacle from locations in and around the Rocket Garden.
The evening show is anchored on the side of a Saturn 1B rocket, also known as the Uprated Saturn I. NASA commissioned this launch vehicle for the Apollo program in the 1960s. Saturn 1B rockets launched Apollo Command/Service Modules into Earth orbit for Apollo, Skylab, and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project with the Soviet Union. SA-209, the Saturn 1B on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, was never put into service. It was built on standby in the early 1970’s for the Skylab missions then. A Saturn 1B has a height of 141.6 feet and a diameter of 21.7 feet.
This year’s show kicked off with a special event for Season Pass holders. Guests could enjoy the show from nearby bleachers, while munching on complimentary cakes and confections while sipping on hot and cold beverages of their choice. Season Pass holders were also presented with a commemorative Kennedy Space Center Pin.
Many of this year’s shows will include a pyrotechnics display which lights up the sky around the NASA complex with color and shakes the nearby swampy terrain with big booms. Fireworks launching for this show will be the only thing launching near NASA anytime soon: the next launch from Cape Canveral will be a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, currently scheduled for lift-off on January 17 in the new year.
Holidays in Space will be on display at the complex December 21 – January 1, excluding Christmas Day (December 25).
On December 21-24, the show runs at 6:45pm. On December 26-January 1, the show runs both at 6:45pm and 7:45pm.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open 9am-7pm through December 24, is open 9am-5pm on December 25, and is open 9am-8pm through December 31. On New Year’s Day, the final day of the Holidays in Space program, the park is open from 9am-7pm.
More information about the visitor complex can be found here.