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Googling the NASA Kennedy Space Center

Just in time to highlight the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Space Center, Google Maps partnered with NASA to offer a virtual tour of the famous launch facility…in Street View mode.

The tour gives you an astronaut-level view of the Florida coast from atop the launch pad that sent men to the moon and parts of the International Space Station into orbit.

Behold, the Doorway to Outer Space

You can view the interior of a firing room in the Launch Control Center, see where different modules of the Space Station got their final inspection, and peek at Space Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavor in the Vehicle Assembly Building as they are being readied for public display after retirement.

The 360-degree views are some of the latest additions to the many galleries Google’s Street View crew has put together from around the world — but with a special nod to the Space Center’s historic contribution as “the doorway to outer space.”

Space History in Action

It was on May 25, 1961, that U.S. President John F. Kennedy set a challenge of getting a man to the moon and back by the end of that decade. A little more than a year later, on July 1, 1962, a small operations directorate on the upper east coast of Florida was given full status as NASA’s Launch Operations Center.

From there, John Glenn launched to become the first American to orbit the Earth, as part of Project Mercury. This was followed by the Gemini and Apollo missions, until finally, in July 1969, Apollo 11’s crew met President Kennedy’s challenge.

As history notes, President Kennedy did not live to see this historic Moon mission. He was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, and a week later, NASA’s launch operations facility was renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center in his honor.

Tour Time

To capture the digital tour, the Google crew visited the centre in early 2012, and used its Street View cars for the street and exterior shots. For tighter spaces and interior views, the Google team made use of a tripod, a wheeled trolley, and a three-wheeled trike (according to NASA information).

You can start the Kennedy tour by clicking here, or you can start here and select the “Gallery” link for a list of all the collections. What’s more, you can filter the collections by category or country (ahem, including many of Canada’s more stunning panoramas).

Each of the Space Center tour pages offer short explanations of what you are seeing. And the first page of the tour offers a thank you from the Street View crew that might be echoed by many a space enthusiast:

“We’d like to thank NASA for making this project possible and giving all of us the chance to digitally walk in the shoes of all the pioneering astronauts, scientists, engineers and technicians that made our space dreams possible.”

AJ Plunkett is a freelance writer in Virginia with experience in covering defense and aerospace industries as well as the military. AJ blogs via Contently.com.

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