8 things every space fan should see at Kennedy Space Center

If you love gazing at the stars in the night sky, you won't want to miss a virtual trip around the Kennedy Space Center.

1. Atlantis Space Shuttle

The historic Space Shuttle flights lasted from 1981 to 2011. You can see in great detail the Atlantis, the space shuttle that flew the very last journey into outer space. The Atlantis is positioned in an action pose with its doors ajar, providing a sense of its enormous scale. You should also be able to see into the interior. Atlantis was one of five space shuttles that could be reused time and again. Their missions were to help build the space station, ferry astronauts back and forth, and aid space technology and new discoveries.

2. US Astonaut Hall of Fame

This gallery includes portraits of the famous American astronauts who helped shape the NASA space program from the late 1950s. You can learn the history of how space was finally conquered as you view the astronaut's biographies. There is Alan Shepard who became the first American to be sent into outer space in 1961. A biography of Ed White describes how in 1965 he became the first to carry out a space walk. Neil Armstrong found lasting fame as the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969. There are usually complementary exhibits such as space suits and helmets.

3. Rocket Garden

The Rocket Garden is fascinating. You can admire the slim Juno 1 which carried the first American satellite into orbit in 1958. The Delta was responsible for putting the Echo balloon into space in 1960, enabling the first global television transmission. One of the most popular exhibits is the gigantic Saturn 1B rocket. It was an important part of the Apollo Space Program during the 1960s and 1970s. It was responsible for sending the first manned crew of Apollo 7 into orbit in 1968.

4. Moonscape

Viewing this reconstructed scene of the first mission to the moon in 1969 is exciting. You can see details of the protective suits worn by the astronauts as they planted the American flag. There's also the authentic Lunar Module 9 which was developed as a base for the astronauts as they explored the cratered surface of the moon.

5. Exploring the Moon

On display, there's an authentic rock brought back from the moon by the crew of Apollo 17 in December 1972. It proved to be the last of the six lunar landings. They also returned with a 'Goodwill Rock' which was subsequently broken into fragments and distributed to countries throughout the world as a token of global peace and harmony. The exhibition also includes maps highlighting the moon's unique terrain.

6. Saturn V Rocket

This massive rocket is displayed aloft, so you can see the rocket from all different angles. The rocket has a length of 111 metres (363 feet) and is famous for being the largest ever to go into outer space. It was also responsible for launching each of the Apollo space modules that ferried many astronauts to the moon's surface from 1969 onwards. The exhibit also includes displays of how the Saturn V was constructed.

7. Treasures Gallery

As the main museum of the Kennedy Space center, it contains many treasured artefacts from the golden age of the Apollo missions. There are several bulky space suits complete with large helmets that were used for training and actual missions. Even moon dust has been caefully preserved on one of them. There is also a display of medals awarded to the astronauts. A favourite exhibit is the Apollo 14 space pod that took three astronauts to the moon's highlands in 1971. The craft is still covered in scorch marks from where it re-entered the earth's atmosphere.

8. Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator

The Kennedy Space center isn't all about the glories of the past. This exhibit features the large, futuristic vehicle designed specifically for missions that might one day take astronauts to the surface of mars. The MRVN has an aerodynamic profile, heat reflective panels and extra large wheels that should glide easily over the craters of the martian terrain. It also contains a mobile laboratory. Martian landing plans are underway to send humans with a vehicle similar to the MRVN between 2030 and 2045. But due to the atmospheric conditions, it's likely to be a one-way trip.