We made the hour and a half drive over to the space center. Kim dropped me there and then headed to Cocoa beach. She had a pleasant day and as it turned out, so did I.
The Visitor Center at Kennedy Space Center is a fairly big attraction. You enter through an amusement park type gate and pay your fee. The cost is $50 for adults. I did not notice that you get $4 off if you are 55+. Oh well, I donated $4 to the effort.
I have to start here by saying that my knowledge of the history of NASA and US space flight is above average. My father worked for McDonnell Douglas during the Apollo program and he educated us as things went along. That education has been the basis for my continued thirst for knowledge over the years. I won't spend much time in this entry retelling history. I will just identify some of the artifacts and connect a few of the dots.
After coming through the gates, you walk into an area they call the Rocket Garden. It is full of older rockets dating back to the first flights. There is a Gemini Rocket and even a Saturn 1B laying on it's side. The Saturn 1B was used in some of the Apollo missions to test some technology before they would use the Saturn 5 to go to the moon.
|The Rocket Garden. The large engine in the foreground is an F-1. 5 of those were used on the first stage of the Saturn 5.|
|Titan II Gemini Rocket.|
|A Saturn 1B was launched 9 times during the Apollo program.|
After the rocket garden, I went to get on the tour bus. They take you out to get an up close look at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The VAB is one of the largest buildings in the world by volume. The pictures do not capture the size of the building. The Flag painted on the side is the largest painted flag anywhere in the world. The building is 525 feet tall.
These slightly used blast doors were pretty cool to look at.
Then we headed to the Saturn Building. On the way we went by a small pond. Nice gator.
Before you get to see the star of the show, they bring you in a room where the original Launch control
has been preserved. They use original voice sound tracks to explain how things worked for Apollo 11. The technology, or really the lack of technology, is pretty amazing.
|Launch Control for Apollo 11|
|The business end of the S-1C.|
I took pictures of each component. I remembered the Saturn V that my dad built on our kitchen table while the Apollo 11 mission was happening back in 1969. He would build each stage and tell us all about them. Thanks Dad!
|Third Stage - S-4B|
|It looked like a toy, but they had to make the LEM very light|
They had mock ups of the Command and Service modules, but the Capsule (Command Module) below is much more cool. It is the original from Apollo 14. Just slightly used and a bit crispy.
|Apollo 14 Command Module|
|Bad picture of the Lunar Rover through the glass.|
Next up was the bus ride back to the main area and then the Space Shuttle area. This is where they have Atlantis. Atlantis is set up in a very cool display with the bay doors open and the arms extended. Atlantis is the veteran of 33 missions. It is showing the wear, but it is amazing that they engineers were able to reuse it that many times.
There was one section that was difficult to walk though. This is the area that payed tribute the the lives lost in the shuttle program. They had parts from Challenger and the front window frames from Columbia that were recovered in East Texas.
|The Hall of Heroes.|
As I have written this entry, I have remembered many things about my day at KSC that I had forgotten. It really was a special day, even if my attitude was not up to par. I think I will end this entry with a picture of the coolest RV ever. An Airstream that is used to move astronauts to the pad. Recently it was scheduled to be replaced, but the astronauts decided to keep the old unit in service.
Sorry for the long entry, but KSC just needed that much. The next day we were scheduled to move on. Come back to see where we went from Orlando and how much we missed being on the road.