In addition to the free admission offer for fifth-graders announced this week, the Delaware North-operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex undertakes many initiatives to share NASA’s mission of space exploration with students. Above, former NASA space shuttle pilot and retired U.S. Navy Captain Jon McBride (at center in blue uniform) recently helped a New Jersey elementary school named after former Gemini and Apollo astronaut James McDivitt celebrate its 50th anniversary. McBride is a member of Delaware North’s astronaut outreach and education team at the visitor complex.

For the second straight year, fifth-graders will now be able to visit the Delaware North-operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) in Florida at no cost.

Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of KSCVC, said the offer was created to expose more students to the immersive, edutainment-style activities and experiences at the visitor complex that support school curriculums with space exploration as an area of study.

“In our continued commitment to promote STEM, we hope to inspire kids in this age group to become the next generation of astronauts, engineers, scientists and launch directors who will make today’s plans a reality,” Protze said. “Students will have the opportunity to see and experience NASA’s past, present and bold future — bringing to life what they are learning about in school.”

A highlight for 2018 is the all-new Astronaut Training Experience, available for an additional fee with admission, which uses immersive simulation technology to transport participants to Mars, train them to live and work in the harshest environment, and teach what it’s like to travel to the Red Planet.

In addition to its exhibits, events and programs, KSCVC also has the closest public viewing areas around the Space Coast, along with a host of launch-related activities.