Delaware North, which operates Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA, on Friday broke ground on a next-generation attraction designed to touch the hearts and minds of the next generation of space explorers – Heroes and Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®.
The new attraction at the famous Central Florida destination is scheduled to open in 2016.
Held on the eve of this year’s U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction, the groundbreaking ceremony featured a large gathering of astronauts, including many hall of fame members. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the hall of fame.
Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony were: Charles Bolden, NASA administrator and hall of fame astronaut; Robert Cabana, director of John F. Kennedy Space Center and hall of fame astronaut; Cheryl Hurst, director, communication and public engagement for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; Dan Brandenstein, chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s board of directors and hall of fame astronaut; Jim Houser, president of the parks and resorts business of Delaware North, which operates the visitor complex for NASA; and Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for Delaware North.
While many members of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame were there to represent NASA’s proud past, the present and future of the American space program also were represented by recipients of the Astronaut Scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation as well as students from Apollo Elementary School in Titusville, Fla.
Heroes and Legends will not only bring to life the enthralling stories of America’s pioneering astronauts, but also invite guests to vicariously experience the thrills and dangers of America’s earliest missions through high-tech elements and special effects, including simulated holograms and augmented reality.
The highlight of Heroes and Legends is a 3D omnidirectional theater, designed to make guests feel as though they are floating in the vastness of space. Stunning images will envelope them as legendary astronauts, including Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Jim Lovell and Neil Armstrong, invite them to join in their epic journeys into the vast unknown.
The new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame – pictured at right – will serve as the culminating element of the attraction, allowing guests to interact virtually with nearly 100 astronaut heroes inducted to date.
“Heroes and Legends promises to speak to the hearts and minds of all generations, from those who bore witness to some of America’s first space launches, to those who dream of someday being among the first to set foot on Mars,” Cabana said.
During the ceremony, Houser noted that 2015 is not only a milestone year for the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame but also for Delaware North and its partnership with NASA.
“Delaware North is very proud to celebrate our 100th anniversary as a company and our 20th year operating Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA,” Houser said. “Since we first took over operations of the visitor complex in 1995, we have enjoyed an incredible partnership with NASA and together, brought about some amazing changes here. We have told the NASA story better and better each year through new tours, new experiences and new attractions, including the amazing Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction, which opened in June 2013.
“On behalf of Delaware North and the Jacobs family, I want to once again thank Mr. Bolden, Mr. Cabana and all of our partners at NASA for entrusting us to tell the NASA story,” Houser said.
Protze explained the significance of holding the groundbreaking on the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, with many hall of fame astronauts in attendance.
“Today, we take the dream that was first conceived by America’s space pioneers, and give it a new life, a new incarnation, befitting the service and sacrifice of all those who dared to follow in their footsteps – many of whom are in the room with us today,” he said. “I know I speak for all of those involved when I say, we could not be more proud to create this attraction in your honor.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, operated for NASA by Delaware North, today broke ground on a new attraction – Heroes and Legends, featuring a new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®. Held on the eve of the 25th anniversary hall of fame induction, the groundbreaking featured (R to L) Dan Brandenstein, Astronaut Scholarship Foundation chairman; Bob Cabana, director of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center; Charlie Bolden, NASA administrator; Jim Houser, president of Delaware North's parks and resorts business and operations in Australia and Asia; Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of the Visitor Complex; and Cheryl Hurst, director, communication and public engagement for Kennedy Space Center.