Launch Pad 39A

Trip Start Nov 07, 2012
Trip End Jan 10, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, December 15, 2012

Before checking out of the Wilderness Lodge, Brad and I got a shuttle bus over to Alamo car rental. I had booked a small, two door midget car - a Fiat. I was pretty worried that the bags were not going to fit in - however a tight squeeze ensured that everything fitted in - just. We were booked to visit Kennedy Visitor Centre. I was amazed at the changes that had taken place there in the 18 months or so since our previous visit - there was a huge new building to house the shuttle that was still under construction, new entry gates and ticket sales points - obviously they are expecting big new crowds when the exhibit opens in 2013.
Our launch pad tour left us only a little time to see a couple of exhibits (the rocket garden and the early years of space flight) then we got some lunch. Our special interest tour was of launch pad 39A - the one from which the moon missions were launched and where most of the shuttle missions departed from as well. We were driven 'inside the fence', the point at which we had stopped 10 years earlier, and were driven around to the side of the launch pad - the storage side for the highly toxic chemicals that powered the orbital maneuvering thrusters. We had 15 minutes there to take photos and ask questions. We were then driven around the corner to the flame trench, where we saw the sound suppression system and walked right up to the opening of the flame trench. It was awe inspiring to be able to stand on a spot where so many historic events had happened - events which I had viewed on television. Our tour moved on then, depositing us at the Apollo museum. No matter how many times I see it, it is still exciting to watch the launch sequence for Apollo 8 in the recreated mission control, and then walk into that giant room to see the Apollo rocket lying on its side. The sheer size of the thing is just staggering.
By the time we got back to the tourist centre it was time to hop in the car and drive back to Orlando to check in to the Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal studios. This was a most attractive resort (although not quite up to Disney standards), and after a long day, we were quite content to order a meal from the bar to eat in our rooms and retire for the night. An early start and a visit to Hogwarts awaits us tomorrow.
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