The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC, originally known as the NASA Launch Operations Center), located on Merritt Island, Florida, is one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) ten field centers. Since December 1968, KSC has been NASA’s primary launch center of human spaceflight. Launch operations for the Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs were carried out from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 and managed by KSC. Located on the east coast of Florida, KSC is adjacent to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS). The management of the two entities work very closely together, share resources and operate facilities on each other’s property.
Though the first Apollo flights and all Project Mercury and Project Gemini flights took off from the then-Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the launches were managed by KSC and its previous organization, the Launch Operations Directorate. Starting with the fourth Gemini mission, the NASA launch control center in Florida (Mercury Control Center, later the Launch Control Center) began handing off control of the vehicle to the Mission Control Center in Houston, shortly after liftoff; in prior missions it held control throughout the entire mission.
Additionally, the center manages launch of robotic and commercial crew missions and researches food production and In-Situ Resource Utilization for off-Earth exploration. Since 2010, the center has worked to become a multi-user spaceport through industry partnerships, even adding a new launch pad in 2015.
There are about 700 facilities and buildings grouped across the center’s 144,000 acres. Among the unique facilities at KSC are the 525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking NASA’s largest rockets, the Launch Control Center, which conducts space launches at KSC, the Operations and Checkout Building, which houses the astronauts dormitories and suit-up area, a Space Station factory, and a 3-mile long Shuttle Landing Facility. There is also a Visitor Complex open to the public on site.