John F. Kennedy Space Center
KSC is the departure site for the first journey to the Moon, and hundreds of scientific, commercial, and applications spacecraft, and now as the base for Space Shuttle launch and landing operations, KSC plays a pivotal role in the
U.S. space program.
Located on the east coast of Florida approximately midway between Jacksonville and Miami, the 140,000 acres (56,700 hectares) controlled by the Center represent a melding of technology and nature. Wildlife thrives here, alongside the immense steel-and-concrete structures of the
launch base. KSC is a national wildlife refuge, and part of its coastal area is a national seashore by agreement between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of the Interior. More than 200 species of birds live here year-round, and in the colder months large flocks of migratory waterfowl arrive from the North and stay for the winter. Many species of endangered wildlife are native to this area: the Southern bald eagle, brown pelican, manatee, peregrine falcon, green sea turtle, and Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.
KSC extends about 34 miles (55 kilometers) from north to south and measures 10 miles (16 kilometers) at its widest point. Located primarily on Merritt Island, the facility is bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and the Banana River, and on the west by the Indian River. The northern boundary is some 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Daytona Beach, and the southern tip is just across the Banana River from Port Canaveral.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on the NASA Causeway (an extension of State Road 405), south of Titusville, and six miles east (9.6 kilometers) from U.S. Highway 1. Available to visitors
are displays of spacecraft, rockets and space equipment; space and aeronautic exhibits; and space science films and demonstrations. Also available are conducted bus tours through Kennedy Space Center and adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
(For up-to-date information on tours and prices to visit Kennedy Space Center, go to the Visitor Complex Web site at
As the role of the spaceport changed with the demands of the U.S. space program, the organization of KSC altered to meet those needs. In keeping with NASA's philosophy of using private industry and the nation's universities wherever possible, the majority of KSC employees work for aerospace contractors. In addition to the work tasks required to assemble, process and launch the Space Shuttle, its payloads and crews, a variety of support functions are necessary to keep this large installation operating. These include day-to-day supply, transportation, grounds maintenance, documentation, drafting, and design engineering. Contractors bid competitively on these functions, and are awarded contracts based on their bids. Contracts are administered by KSC's NASA civil service work force.
This page was last updated on 20-Sep-2003.