Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is constantly changing and evolving to give guests a better experience. 

Before the year is up, the visitor complex will have renovated restaurants, new attractions and a whole new entrance.

Starting Dec. 15, the complex will have a newly renovated Milky Way Ice Cream Shop for the sweet tooth in the room, as well as the new piezoelectric pathway for guests to generate electricity while launching their own rockets.

Below are some of the new additions heading their way:

1. Piezoelectric pathway

In November, the complex introduced the addition of five solar trees in an effort to promote sustainability. 

Now it’s planning on including a piezoelectric pathway which will let guests generate electricity while also learning about NASA missions as well as launching rockets.

Working with Georgia Tech University, the piezoelectric pathway will be displayed on Dec. 15 on “Main Street,” the area between the Rocket Garden and Atlantis center, and will have three different stations which will take the shape of the moon, Earth and Mars, Rebecca Shireman, manager of communications and public relations at the visitor complex said.

Each pathway will have several tiles which guests will step on and after enough electricity is generated, they will be able to launch a rocket on the screens above the pathways. 

“It takes a team to launch a rocket,” Shireman said, “and this kind of will help illustrate that.” 

There will also be an app for guests to download on their smartphone to give them the opportunity to learn more about various NASA facilities throughout the world as well as about NASA missions, Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of the visitor complex, said on Nov. 13 at the National Space Club Florida Committee luncheon at the Radisson Resort at The Port. 

“There’s no better place to showcase new technology than Kennedy Space Center,” Shireman said. “At the visitor complex in particular, we have a very strong focus on education and education in a way that’s entertaining.” 

2. Renovated Milky Way and Red Rock Grill

The Milky Way Ice Cream Shop at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be open to the public after undergoing renovations on Dec. 15, 2018.

The Milky Way Ice Cream Shop at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be open to the public after undergoing renovations on Dec. 15, 2018. (Photo: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex)

In the food service industry, the complex will be renovating the Milky Way Ice Cream Shop as well as the Red Rock Grill.

The renovated restaurants will include new menu items as well as a new look. 

The Milky Way shop will be ready to serve out-of-this-world ice cream on Dec. 15, but the Red Rock Grill won’t be ready until early 2019, Shireman said. 

3. New entrance and parking lot 

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Photo: Provided)

On Dec. 17, guests can experience a whole new entrance as they drive up to the complex. 

If you’re driving from Space Commerce Way where Blue Origin is located, a new street light and access road has been added for guests to enter the complex, Shireman said.

“Not only is it going to alleviate some of the traffic concerns that come up, especially on launch days,” Shireman said, “but it’s also going to create a greater sense of arrival.” 

Aside from making the entrance to the complex more accessible, they will also be introducing a new parking plaza designed to look like the crawler-transporter that transports spacecraft vehicles from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Complex 39.

It will have six lanes, two of which are self-serving kiosks for visitors paying the parking fee, Shireman said. 

4. Enhanced bus tour

NASA's Apollo/Saturn V Center

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» Year built: December 1996 » Location: Kennedy Space Center » Cost: $37 million » Why it’s safe: Like all the other facilities that NASA built in Florida after Hurricane Andrew, this tourist attraction, which houses space shuttle mementos and a full sized Saturn V moon rocket, is certified to withstand a category 4 hurricane. It is designed to survive sustained, 130 to 135 mph winds and wind gusts to 155 mph. The building has reinforced masonry walls and reinforced doors and windows. Care has been taken to ensure that any exterior equipment that is mounted on the roof is tightly fastened, such that it could not be swept away by the wind. Critical assets are elevated in the building so that they are shielded from flooding, and various methods have been used to secure the building’s roof. (Photo: CRAIG BAILEY/FLORIDA TODAY)

As one of the main attractions at the complex, the bus tour gives guests firsthand opportunities to see the birthplace of American spaceflight.

On the tour, guests are able to see the Apollo 8 launch site, the Saturn V rocket as well as the working spaceflight facility where they plan on sending astronauts into deep space. 

Though the bus tours have already existed for decades, the complex will be adding new videos to provide guests with a more behind the scenes look at the work done at NASA.

The videos will debut the week of Dec. 17, and will provide new content that looks at the past, present and future of the space center, Shireman said. 

“As things change here so rapidly, we’re constantly looking at ways we need to update the information that we’re providing to our guests and the information that is most relevant to what is most important,” Shireman said. “That’s what the new bus tour is all about; making sure that as those focuses may shift, we are reflecting that in all the content.”

5. New facility for lunch with an astronaut

At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, guests can choose to have "lunch with an astronaut" for an additional fee.

At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, guests can choose to have “lunch with an astronaut” for an additional fee. (Photo: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex)

As an added feature, guests are given the opportunity to dine with an astronaut.

While enjoying a chef-prepared buffet meal, guests are able to listen to astronaut tales about what it’s like in space, and are also able to ask any questions and take photos with them, Shireman said. 

Currently residing behind the Heroes and Legends building, the complex will be moving the experience to have lunch with an astronaut to its own separate facility near where the bus tours are located. 

But that’s not all.

Though many of the components of the “lunch with an astronaut” experience will stay the same, Shireman said they will be focusing on adding a more human element as well.

By sharing more personal stories, guests can know what kind of meals astronauts have in space, what their favorite foods are and what tastes good.

The project is currently in the works, but the complex is unsure when exactly it will be completed. 

“Coming here and seeing all the things that are happening is really eye-opening for a lot of people, and that’s from Floridians to people who travel here from Brazil,” Shireman said. “I think everyone is amazed by the level of activity that’s going on, and I think it also illustrates the importance of the space program.” 

Contact Jaramillo at 321-242-3668 or antoniaj@floridatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AntoniaJ_11.  Source:https://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/2018/12/13/5-new-additions-look-forward-kennedy-space-center-visitor-complex/2291139002/

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