Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kennedy Space Center

I was really excited to visit the Kennedy Space Center despite an admitted lack of knowledge (or previous interest in) the space program as a whole. I remember, in elementary school, our class activity coming to a halt and the teacher wheeling in a television set to watch the first moon landing. And I remember sitting on the living floor with almost 2 year old, Katie, watching the Challenger explode shortly after launching. That is about the extent of my knowledge...sad! But our visit today was exciting, educational and just plain  inspiring. To think of the science and knowledge involved to actually LAUNCH a rocket,  or shuttle is amazing. To think of the vastness of our universe and how little we truly know about it's extent is mind boggling.
We started our day with the bus tour which brings you to two destinations, the LC-39 Observation Gantry and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. On the way, we also drove by the Vehicle Assembly Building. The Gantry overlooks the launch areas which lie outside of the visitors center. We were able to see the Crawler Transporter as well as many launch pads including LC39A and LC39B where the shuttles had been launched.

On to the next building that houses a fully restored Saturn V rocket and Apollo Space Capsule which brought man to the moon.
Saturn V's booster rockets

Command Module

Apollo 14 Command Module

"The Eagle has Landed"
We also got to see the actual Apollo programs Launch Control Center and experience what it was like in the moments before the actual launch.

The board that says it all...

We have lift-off
After the bus tour we took on the Shuttle Launch Experience. You are buckle in a seat in a launch simulator and subjected to the motion, force and vibration of a shuttle launch. Amazing.....and very weird. I'm sure we weren't experiencing even close to the actual force of launch but I swear my face moved from the front of my head to the back of my head. The lady sitting in front of us had long hair and it was standing straight out behind her and almost in my face! After a short break (smoke) and a walk through the Astronaut Memorial, we caught the IMAX film about the Hubble, what it does and what it took to repair it (several times).  We had been to an Observatory in Texas and had seen photos from the Hubble. Heck, we had even bought a book about the universe that, of course, featured many Hubble photos. But this movie was just unbelievably amazing. Really made us think about the vast Universe and our place among the stars. We're so minuscule, so insignificant in a galaxy that is simply one of billions of galaxies. This guy, however, is not insignificant and he knows it...

KSC lies within the Merritt Island National Wildlife Preserve
and there is an abundance of alligators!

Following the film and with a new sense of smallness, we walked through the Rocket Garden made up of the Mercury-Redstone, Atlas, Apollo Saturn 1B and many other retired rockets.

By now, we were actually pretty pooped, yet had not seen quite a few of the exhibits and displays that the KSC has for visitors. But fatigue won out so we said goodbye to the KSC and headed home.

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow! This looks amazing!
    I had google searched a blog post of a recent visit of the KSC and stumbled upon the post - I am planning a trip for April. This post makes me even more excited about it!!