The NASA rover Curiosity started to explore Mars on Monday. Meanwhile, people on Earth can start to explore NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center through the magic of Google Street View.


Google rolled out the Street View look at Kennedy on Aug. 2 to celebrate the space center's 50th anniversary. Officially established on July 1, 1962, as the NASA Launch Operations Center, the Florida site has been the launching destination for every NASA manned space flight operation since 1968. It was renamed on Nov. 29, 1963 following President Kennedy's assassination.


The 6,000 interactive, panoramic views of the space center — Google Street View's largest special collection to date — allows cyber visitors to explore the space shuttle launch pad, the shuttle's main engines, the Vehicle Assembly Building and sites. The collection also includes in-depth looks at the Space Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavor. The virtual tour includes several areas not normally accessible by the public without security clearances.


According to the official Google Blog, this is part of the company's mission "to document the world's most amazing places."


The Google Street View look inside the space center allows viewers to zoom in, out, up and around the various locations and objects throughout the base.

The public can also take in-person tours of much of the center, including new areas that were not open when the space shuttle was still operating. "We have completed the shuttle program and now moving toward the future with the space launch system," visitors center spokesperson Andrea Farmer told First Coast News. "It is a point in time where there aren't hazardous chemicals in the areas like the Vehicle Assembly Building or the launch pad. So this is one of those rare opportunities in the history of NASA that we can bring the public into these areas and experience what it is like and really go behind the scenes."


Google released this video showing off much of what can be explored through the Kennedy Space Center Street View:



Related space story on MNN: Tearful moment for space shuttle employees on final day