Vintage Kennedy Space Center Photos
This page is a repository for vintage photos of the Kennedy Space Center.
This undated postcard shows the entrance to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, with the Rocket Garden in the background. The Visitor Center building appears to have been located in a different area than the current Visitor Center entrance.
Another undated postcard shows the interior the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, from nearly the same angle as the entrance above.
At left is Gemini 9, which is still exhibited by KSC today. When I first visited in 2004, I noticed that a chunk of the Plexiglas covering Gemini 9's heat shield was missing, allowing visitors to touch the heat shield. I was surprised when I visited a year later that it had still not been repaired. If you look closely at this photo, however (at approximately the 8:00 position on the heat shield), it appears that this piece of Plexiglas has been missing for many, many years.
The 1:10 scale Saturn V model is still at KSC, although it has been relocated to the Apollo-Saturn V Center.
The March 18, 1974 issue of the Huntsville Times reports that S-IC-T "was removed from its test stand at Marshall Space Flight Center recently for a two-week sea voyage to Florida." This photo shows that S-IC stage served as a stand-alone display for some time prior to being moved across the road and being joined by the remaining Saturn V stages.
What is unclear is when the S-IC was put on display next to the VAB. While the S-IC should have arrived at KSC in late March or early April 1974, it seems to have been some time before it was moved to this location. I have a number of issues of Spaceport News, the KSC newspaper; no issues from March to October 1974 (the range of issues to which I have access) mention it. July of that year was the fifth anniversary of Apollo 11, and it would seem that the commemoration would have included the S-IC if it were on display.
Near the top of this photo is the Shuttle Landing Facility, which appears to be in the early construction phase. The April 4, 1974 issue of Spaceport News reported that the ground breaking ceremony for the runway took place on April 1, 1974 and photos of the SLF from late April 1975 show the runway in a paved condition, so it seems likely that this photo is from late 1974 or very early 1975.
An article in the Smithsonian's Air &Space magazine states that the other stages of the Saturn V were "reassembled in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building in 1975." Saturn cites April 1976 as the month that the S-II and S-IVB joined the S-IC on the VAB lot. The Smithsonian article does contain at least one factual error (the S-IC is S-IC-T, the static test stage, rather than from the "never-was Apollo 18"), so it's difficult to reconcile this conflict.
But the Saturn V was in place at the end of some parking lots south of the Vehicle Assembly Building's low bay for the United States Bicentennial. Kennedy hosted the "3rd Century America" Bicentennial Exposition, celebrating the beginning of America's third century of independence. Certificates of participation depicting the Saturn V at the VAB were printed up to commemorate:
While this postcard is undated, several of the domes have been removed and, behind the water tower, we see that construction is well underway on the two Orbiter Processing Facility buildings (OPF-1 and OPF-2). The contract for the first two OPFs was awarded on May 12, 1977 and construction was "essentially completed" by December of that year, which would seem to date this photo to late summer 1977. (Google Maps link; the water tower in the background is still visible today). In April and May of 1996, the stages of the Saturn were moved to the Apollo-Saturn V Center.
Another undated postcard. This one appears to be from even later after the Bicentennial (as the domes have been removed from the parking lot, but the bus tour contract appears to be held by the same company as in the postcard above). Note that the Bicentennial star remained on the VAB until NASA celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 1998, when it was replaced with the NASA "meatball."
Based on the paint job on the bus, this postcard appears to be more recent than the one above. While it may just be the lighting, it appears that the paint on the S-IC has undergone a touch-up as well.