In an ongoing mission to bring the epic story of the U.S. space program to life, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex this month announced more details of its latest large-scale attraction.
Slated to open in March 2022, Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex, will focus on the present and future of collaborative space exploration, enabling guests to experience the interstellar travel of tomorrow while celebrating what is happening right now within the space program. It will feature a showcase of NASA and commercial spacecraft hardware with immersive displays, as well as a “journey” through space, unique launch viewing opportunities and more.
Gateway will be the latest major attraction that Delaware North has developed with NASA for the visitor complex since the company began to operate the destination in 1995. The Apollo/Saturn V Center opened in 1996; Shuttle Launch Experience opened in 2007; Space Shuttle Atlantis opened in 2013; Heroes & Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, presented by Boeing opened in 2016; the Astronaut Training Experience® (ATX) Center – Exploring with Lockheed Martin opened in 2018; and Planet Play opened earlier this year.
The 50,000-square-foot, multilevel Gateway attraction, currently under construction in the shadow of the complex’s Rocket Garden, will engage and inspire guests through one-of-a-kind experiences, artifacts and exhibits. Featuring a comprehensive collection of modern-day spacecraft, Gateway will offer the opportunity to explore the future of space travel in a way never before possible.
Through immersive education, atmospheric effects and a 4D motion theatre, guests will see, experience and feel what it is actually like to travel in space.
The striking façade of the Gateway building is designed to capture attention and spark imagination even before entering. The outside walls are accented with iridescent panels of bright turquoise that will alternate with shades of purple, replicating the constant motion and brilliant colors of the universe.
Upon entering Gateway on the first level, “space travelers” will be greeted with a futuristic design intended to set the stage for their journey. Visitors will be surrounded by actual space-flown artifacts and full-scale models, placed around the floor and suspended from above to allow 360-degree viewing and interaction. Included among the artifacts is the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, officially known as Booster 1023, which supported two SpaceX missions.
As well as offering a “nose-to-nose” view of the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, Gateway’s second floor features a 30-foot, floor-to-ceiling Robotic Trail Blazers Wall with interactive, touchscreen displays through which guests can learn about almost 40 different satellites and probes in space. Also in this area will be a HoloTube presentation station where guests can learn about the high-powered James Webb Space Telescope by manipulating holographic imagery, video and animation through a touchscreen kiosk.
Nearby, guests will be transported into the future of space travel at Spaceport KSC, the first and only airport of the future. Upon entering the concourse, travelers will be surrounded by the sights and sounds of a galactic spaceport: Atmospheric airport chatter will surround travelers as they peer through windows at distant views of active launches and landings.
The main concourse features multiple screens that will showcase destination promo videos and departure and arrival information. Guests will then board their “spaceships” – in the form of a two-story, 4D flying theater – for one of four journeys: Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet or Uncharted Worlds. Each distinct destination allows for the possibility of a different experience with each visit.
Gateway’s rooftop will be a versatile space for both launch and landing viewing and hosting special events. Affixed to the rooftop will be a Planewave CDK20 Telescope with a Espirit 100-mm triplet deep sky APO Refractor, and an Altair 125-mm solar refractor will offer access to some of the sky’s most amazing celestial and solar wonders.
PHOTO CAPTION (above): A rendering shows the 50,000-square-foot Gateway attraction that is currently under construction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The multilevel building will be capped by a rooftop observation deck that can be used for viewings of launches and landings at Kennedy Space Center, as well as special events.
PHOTO CAPTION (middle): Interior renderings of Gateway show the immersive atmosphere that visitors will experience to simulate the interstellar space travel of tomorrow. “Spaceport KSC”will be the first and only airport of the future.
PHOTO CAPTION (below): The SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, which traveled to space to support two SpaceX missions, is transported past the visitor complex’s Rocket Garden and into the Gateway attraction. The booster is one of several space-flown artifacts that will be on display at Gateway.