Turkey, Cranberries and a Mars Rover: Thanksgiving Week Activities at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida

Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Fla.
Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Fla.

Nov. 20, 2011 Update: The Mars rover launch has been pushed to Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. Visit www.nasa.gov/msl for the  latest launch updates. 

Thanksgiving is next week (!!!) and folks in Central Florida can immerse in space goodness thanks to the Mars Curiosity rover launch scheduled for Friday, Nov. 25 at 10:25 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 26 from Kennedy Space Center. Special events and launch related activities will be taking place all week:

Nov. 21
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex welcomes a Mars Rover Exhibit, featuring a trio of full sized, high fidelity rover models from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) including: Sojourner, Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and the newest member of the family, the car-sized MSL rover, Curiosity. The exhibit, located in Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted, will remain at the Visitor Complex through March 2012.

Nov. 22 through 26
Guests are invited to the LEGO® Build the Future play area. Children of all ages will be admitted to the play area for 45 minutes to build their vision of the future out of LEGO bricks. Visit www.legospace.com for a peak at LEGO activities.

Nov. 25 Nov. 26
A limited number of guests can witness the historic MSL launch from select designated locations within Kennedy Space Center for $20 plus cost of admission.

Guests can watch the launch from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for the cost of admission ($43 plus tax for adults and $33 plus tax for children 3 to 11 years old; or purchase an Annual Pass for $56 plus tax for adults and $46 plus tax for children 3 to 11 years old).

Astronaut Leland Melvin, NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, April 29, 2011
Astronaut Leland Melvin, NASA Tweetup, Kennedy Space Center, April 29, 2011

Later on in the day…
Special guest Bill Nye of the Emmy award-winning TV show, “Bill Nye The Science Guy,®” returns to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and will speak to guests at the IMAX® Theater at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to discuss the MSL mission and Curiosity rover. Seating for Nye’s presentations is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so early arrival at the IMAX Theater is recommended.

Nov. 25-26
Visitor Complex guests may take part in the Scientists in Action live webcast and ask questions of MSL scientists as well as attend live presentations by visiting Mars scientists.

About NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission
The mission features the car-sized Curiosity rover, equipped with the most advanced payload of scientific gear ever deployed to the surface of Mars. After an eight-month journey, MSL will land on Mars in August 2012. The innovative and precise guided entry and powered sky crane descent employed to place Curiosity on the Martian surface has made many of Mars’ most intriguing regions viable destinations for the first time.

In the 23-months (one Mars year) after landing, Curiosity will analyze samples drilled from rocks or scooped from the ground as it explores, assesses and characterizes its landing region site with greater capabilities than any previous Mars rover. Much like a robotic field geologist and mobile geochemical and environmental laboratory, Curiosity will provide NASA scientists with new data for understanding Mars as a potential habitat for life, past or present.

And how cool is that???

MSL Launch Viewing Tickets
Advance reservations are strongly recommended for MSL Launch Viewing tickets. Visit www.kennedyspacecenter.com or call 866-737-5235.

This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover along with an illustrated astronaut bird.
This artist concept features NASA

Tweeting Away…
Oh, have I mentioned I’ll be attending NASA Tweetup which means I’ll be pretty dang close for this launch? I also found out my space crush, Leland Melvin (@astro_flow ; NASA’s assistant administrator for education and former astronaut), will be there along with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden; astronaut Doug Wheelock (@astro_wheels) and Bill Nye the Science Guy (@thescienceguy). Don’t forget, follow me on Twitter (@jenniferhuber).

About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Located less than an hour’s drive east of Orlando in Brevard County, the Kennedy Space Center is a must-see attraction when visiting Florida. (The drive is about three hours from my home in Port Charlotte.) It opens daily at 9 a.m. (closed December 25) and certain launch days. Admission includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour (not the tours mentioned above), Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and all exhibits.

Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia, open from noon until 6:00 p.m. daily. Parking, wheelchairs, strollers and pet kennels are free of charge.

Admission is $43 + tax for adults and $33 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander’s Club Annual Pass is $56 + tax for adults and $46 + tax for children ages 3-11. For additional information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

That's me, Solo Travel Girl, swimming in Weeki Wachee Springs. Photo: Tammy Middleton/Studios Middleton
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