Shuttle Launch Experience

Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to be an astronaut…strapped flat on your back in a fully fueled spacecraft, waiting in anticipation for the final seconds of the countdown… 3…2…1…

Experience what veteran NASA astronauts call the next best thing to an actual space shuttle launch – Shuttle Launch Experience®, located inside the Space Shuttle AtlantisSM attraction.

Your journey begins as you walk up the gantry, hearing from experienced NASA astronauts as they share their personal recollections of their own missions into space.

Next, enter the heart of space shuttle operations for your prelaunch briefing, given by veteran Space Shuttle Commander and NASA Administrator, Charlie Bolden. Getting nervous yet? Don’t worry. Commander Bolden takes you step by step through the launch sequence, beginning four hours before launch and fast forwarding to the final seconds on the countdown clock. He even tells you what to do if you receive the dreaded 402 alarm… But there’s no time to worry about that – it’s time to enter the crew cabin and strap in. You’re about to “get vertical” in an all-too-real simulation of the space shuttle’s eight-and-a-half-minute ascent into orbit.Sure enough, just as Commander Bolden described, you’ll feel the g-forces pushing you back into your seat as you hurtle toward the heavens at simulated speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour. Then as you begin to wonder if you’re really cut out for space flight, you suddenly reach orbit and the sensation of weightlessness takes over. For a brief moment, you feel as light as a feather, as if you’re floating in your seat. That’s just one of the incredible moments that astronauts live for –you’ll experience another as the shuttle’s payload bay doors open and you get a breathtaking view of Earth through an astronaut’s eyes – as a serene, cloud-covered blue marble set against a black, starlit sky.