It began with a bold idea.
Speaking before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the ambitious goal of sending an American to the moon by the end of the decade. The announcement came just six weeks after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space and four years after the Soviet Union shocked and embarrassed the United States by launching Sputnik, the Earth’s first artificial satellite.
While Brevard County enjoys one of the most diverse economies in the country, it will always remain intrinsically connected to the economy of the space program and the Kennedy Space Center, which has significantly impacted the county’s ups and downs since its start in 1962.
With rockets launching almost every week, there is a renewed interest in America’s space program. People line the beaches and roadways surrounding Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch rockets launched from pads 39A and 39B, and the adjoining Canaveral Space Force Base pads. Since the opening of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center 60 years ago, large crowds have been coming to Brevard County for a firsthand experience as the race for the moon heated up. For a comprehensive look at the space program, tourists can head to KSC’s visitors complex.
In January 1958, Explorer I, America’s first satellite, proved to the world that the country was ready for the Space Age. Four years later, when Kennedy Space Center opened, Keuper would find a large supply of engineers eager to advance their careers by enrolling at the new institution of higher learning. Back on Earth just miles away from where Explorer I launched, missileman and nuclear physicist Jerry Keuper was busy launching another out-of-this-world endeavor, Brevard Engineering College, now known as Florida Institute of Technology.
Whether you are looking to connect with nature and wildlife — or seek solace while camping under the stars — the Indian River Lagoon’s spoil islands offer a picture perfect setting for all that is related to nature. The man-made sanctuaries that dot the inland waterways from Mims to Sebastian Inlet are havens for tranquility — and provide a peaceful place for both recreation and wildlife conservation.
With 72 miles of beaches, the Space Coast offers plenty of opportunities for surf fishing. With calmer seas and warmer weather, summertime can be one of the best seasons for newbies and youth to learn the sport. There is plenty of free advice and information available — from resources that can be accessed online to professional Surf Charter guides to area bait and tackle fishing outlets. The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot when first getting started.
Vacation Island Paradise, a tiny horseshoe-sliver of land with several names. Also known as Grant Farm Island, or VIP Island, this unique enclave of 65 homes is geographically just a five-minute boat ride from the South Brevard mainland, but mentally miles from the routine hassles of life. A 50-acre part natural, part spoil island created from dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway, VIP Island is one of the few inhabited islands in Florida accessible only by boat.