A bronze placard with white words is centered among a backdrop of clouds and grass.A large bronze historical marker plaque is unveiled Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at the location of NASA Kennedy Space Center’s original headquarters building. Approved in April 2023 as part of the State of Florida’s Historical Markers program in celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, the marker commemorates the early days of space exploration and is displayed permanently just west of the seven-story, 200,000 square foot Central Campus Headquarters Building, which replaced the old building in 2019.Photo credit: NASA/Mike Chambers A grass field and tile display of NASA’s iconic “meatball” is all that remains of the structure that stood for over 50 years during America’s most monumental launches to space. Now, a large bronze plaque at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida marks the location of this original headquarters building, commemorating the early days of space exploration. 

Approved in April 2023 as part of the State of Florida’s Historical Markers program, the marker was unveiled Tuesday, May 28, 2024, by center leaders during a ceremony attended by former and current NASA employees as part of National Historic Preservation Month. 

“As we surge into the future, it’s appropriate to take a moment and remember the past,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Janet Petro. “We wouldn’t be at the forefront of space exploration without those whose footsteps we followed and it’s important that their service be properly honored. But we also focus on the future of the spaceport so that it will always maintain our path to space.” 

The new marker will be displayed permanently just west of the seven-story, 200,000 square foot Central Campus Headquarters Building on NASA Parkway, which replaced the old building in 2019. The more modern headquarters was built with the center’s master plan in mind, prioritizing efficiencies in cost, energy, and land usage to ensure NASA puts as much resources as possible toward its mission. 

Various artifacts from the old building were removed before its demolition and are now displayed in the new headquarters, including its original sign and a bust of President John F. Kennedy, after whom the center is named. 

Wall tiles from Kennedy Space Center’s former headquarters building are presented to Kennedy Director Janet Petro inside the Florida spaceport’s Central Campus Headquarters Building on May 3, 2022. The two 15-pound sections from the building were preserved by Maverick Constructors LLC, the construction company that completed demolition of the structure. The company’s presentation of the tiles is in honor of the many civil servants and contractors who dedicated their lives to working for and supporting NASA in this building.Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux Constructed in 1965, Kennedy’s original four-story headquarters building became the scientific, engineering, and administrative hub for three of NASA’s most iconic space programs: Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle. Designed in the International Style, the 440,000 square foot structure had an intimate view of some of NASA’s grandest moments, including the launch of the Apollo 11 mission that successfully landed the first humans on the moon in 1969, fulfilling the goal famously set by President Kennedy seven years earlier. 

Other major NASA milestones accomplished during the building’s lifetime include the 1973 launch of Skylab, the first-ever space meeting of American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts in 1975, the 1990 launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, and the construction of the International Space Station in 1998. 

Prior to its demolition, the old headquarters was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It is the first original NASA center headquarters building to be demolished. 

The original headquarters ground becomes the seventh location within the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore to have a marker approved by the Florida Historic Marker Council. It joins three others within Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and three more located on Kennedy Parkway. It is the only one of the seven inside Kennedy’s secure area.  

Historic Marker Celebrates NASA Kennedy’s Old Center Headquarters