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World Space Expo Announces Aerial Salute to 50 Years in Space

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (October 16, 2007) — Experience the thrill and power of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as they fly for only the second time in 31 years at Kennedy Space Center. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds and the newest superfighter, the F-22 Raptor, will headline the weekend Aerial Salute to 50 Years in Space at the World Space Expo on November 1-4, 2007 at Kennedy Space Center. Specially-priced advance tickets are now on sale through Sunday, October 21. Advance tickets represent a $10 savings on Visitor Complex admission and allow for one day admission between November 1-4 to World Space Expo. 
Presented by Space Florida, World Space Expo will showcase some of the most significant aircraft in use today by the U.S. military as well as commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the United States Air Force. Air Force air craft to be featured include the P-51 Mustang, F-15 Eagle, in addition to the F-16 and F-22, as well as a demonstration by the 920th Rescue Wing, based at Patrick Air Force Base. 
The Aerial Salute will take place on the NASA Causeway overlooking the Banana River, surrounded by Space Shuttle and rocket launch pads, an area of limited access normally used for viewing of Space Shuttle launches. 
Spaceflight and flight training have deep roots originating with U.S. military aviators. The Mercury 7 astronauts were selected exclusively from the ranks of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. More than 90 percent of the astronauts throughout the mid 1980’s came from the military. Today, military pilots continue to play a significant role, commanding and piloting virtually every Space Shuttle mission. Additionally, NASA’s Aeronautical Research Mission Directorate is responsible for developing some of the most advanced technology in use today on state-of-the-art military aircraft. The mix of state-of-the-art aircraft, elite rescue operators and precision parachute jumps will demonstrate the significant ties between aviation, aeronautics and spaceflight.
World Space Expo Aerial Salute to 50 Years in Space Participants:
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
Few sights are more inspiring than the site of one of America's elite precision aerial demonstration teams. The red, white and blue F-16 jets will blaze the skies over Kennedy Space Center demonstrating their renowned formation flying and solo routines. 
U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor
The world's most advanced stealth super fighter makes only its sixth aerial demonstration showcasing state-of-the-art aeronautical technology. NASA’s Aeronautical Research Mission Directorate contributed greatly to the capabilities of the F-22 Raptor with innovations like thrust vectoring, a technology first flown and perfected on NASA's X-31 research aircraft in the mid 1990's. The F-22 Raptor will present its amazing capabilities in recognition of NASA’s contributions to advancing modern aircraft performance and safety.
U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet
Many Space Shuttle commanders and pilots are aviators from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.  The F-18 Super Hornet, also known as the Rhino, is the U.S. Navy’s most elite high performance aircraft. The Super Hornet will open the World Space Expo Aerial Salute to 50 Years in Space in recognition of the men and women who make up a significant part of the active and retired astronaut corps at NASA.
U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle
Some of the best pilots from the U.S. Air Force have commanded and flown the Space Shuttle.  The F-15 Eagle, the backbone of the United States Air Force for more than 30 years, will fly in salute to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force, many of which have served NASA as astronauts and engineers.
U.S. Air Force 920th Rescue Wing
The 920th Rescue Wing, part of the United States Air Force 45th Space Wing based at Patrick Air Force Base, has a long history with the U.S. space program. The 920th Rescue Wing recovered Mercury and Gemini capsules after splash down in the Atlantic Ocean. Today, the 920th Rescue Wing continues to support the space program, standing ready for emergency rescue operations for every Space Shuttle launch. The 920th will stage an astronaut rescue simulation and demonstration, showcasing their skills and training in support of the U.S. space program. 
U.S. Army Parachute Team, “Golden Knights”
The U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal was largely responsible for sending the first American into space. On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. rode a Redstone rocket to an altitude of 115 miles on a fifteen-minute suborbital flight. The “Golden Knights” Parachute Team will jump in a very special 45th Anniversary tribute to Project Mercury, and the men and women who made it possible. Now in their 44th year, the team will perform precision aerial maneuvers while falling to earth at speeds reaching 120 miles per hour. 
P-51 Mustang Heritage Flight
Many of the original Mercury 7 and early space program astronauts flew the P-51 Mustang in the U.S. Air Force prior to entry into the astronaut corps.  Retired Apollo astronauts will fly aboard two P-51 Mustangs as part of the 45th anniversary tribute to Project Mercury.
World Space Expo is a celebration of 50 years of space exploration.  Visitors will experience the thrill and power of America’s flight capability in a weekend air show. Astronauts John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Al Worden, Eileen Collins, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, General Susan Helms and a host of other space pioneers will be featured speakers throughout the four day event. On display will be rarely-seen artifacts of the space program including an actual Russian Vostok space capsule, and displays of today’s space program and space travel. NASA’s 50th Anniversary will be featured with special displays and interactive activities at the NASA Pavilion. The United States Air Force’s 60th Anniversary will be highlighted through presentations about their role in America’s space program and the history of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. World Space Expo is presented by Space Florida and sponsored in part by Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism, the Country Inn and Suites and Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach.   
Specially-priced World Space Expo advance tickets are now on sale through Sunday, October 21 and can be purchased on-line at   Admission to World Space Expo, including regular admission to the Visitor Complex, is available at a special pre-event price of $28 plus tax for adults and $18 plus tax for children 3-11 years. This represents a $10 savings on Visitor Complex admission and allows for one day admission between November 1-4, 2007. 
For more information on World Space Expo, visit or call 321-449-4400.
About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens at 9 a.m. Closing times vary by season. The Visitor Complex is open daily except December 25 and certain launch days. Admission includes the new Shuttle Launch Experience, Kennedy Space Center Tour, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, all exhibits, and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft, simulator rides and the world's largest collection of personal astronaut mementos. Admission is $38 + tax for adults and $28 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander’s Club Annual Pass is $50 + tax for adults and $35 + tax for children ages 3-11.  For more information, call 321-449-4400 or visit