Florida: Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building tour to end

Florida: Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building tour to end
The Vehicle Assembly Building (with the space shuttle Atlantis in the foreground) at the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Fla. (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel)

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is going to end behind-the-scenes tours of the huge Vehicle Assembly Building where space vehicles -- from the first Saturn V rocket in the 1960s to the last space shuttle Atlantis flight in 2011 -- were prepared for launch.

Tours stop Feb. 11 as the building is transformed into a working site for new Space Launch Systems vehicles in the future, the space center visitor complex in Titusville announced Tuesday.


For the next few weeks, the three-hour KSC Up-Close VAB Tour (which includes general admission to the visitor complex) costs $75 for adults, $59 for children 3 to 11. It features:

--A guided tour inside the VAB, as it's called, which covers eight acres;
--A stop at the NASA Causeway to see to a view of all the launch pads;
--The Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour;
--Exhibits on the space shuttle Atlantis and the Shuttle Launch Experience;
--The Angry Birds Space Encounter;
--IMAX 3-D films; and more.

The VAB turned 50 last year. It has 456-foot-high bay doors to accommodate cranes and hoists needed to move, process and stack rocket stages. The Space Center has taken tourists inside the building since November 2011.

"Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has been honored to give our guests rare access to the VAB for the past two years, yet we knew that the day would come when preparations for the SLS would take precedent," Therrin Protze, chief operating officer for the complex, said in a statement. 
Other Up-Close tours of the launch pad and the Launch Control Center will continue for now, but may be subject to change as the center prepares for its new role.
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