Local 6 tours restricted KSC launch control center

Officials open center to public at shuttle program's close

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - For the first time in 30 years, the public gets to see a restricted area of the Kennedy Space Center that was vital to historic shuttle missions.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex let Local 6 behind the scenes on Friday to the launch control center, where all launches from the space shuttle and Apollo programs were supervised.

In 1968, men launched the crew of Apollo 8 on the first mission to orbit the moon. 13 years later, the space shuttle program took over the launch control center and it became off-limits to the public.

KSC visitors can book a separate tour of Firing Room Four, where NASA's top employees analyzed computer data off these monitors to determine if the space craft was a good for launch.

Officials said there was no longer an immediate need for the firing room at the space shuttle program's close, so they allowed the public to take a peek.

However, as early as next year, the facility could once again be used to launch commercial rockets in orbit and eventually a heavy-lift rocket NASA is developing to take humans to Mars.

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