We Have Liftoff!
Trip Start Apr 30, 2013
7Trip End Jun 19, 2013
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Where I stayed
What I did
I've been somewhat confused between the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral (which is what I thought they called it in the Apollo days). While the space related facilities here have had various names over the years, now there are two connected complexes. The Kennedy Space Center (which we saw some of) is basically used for civilian launches (it was used for all Apollo and Space Shuttle launches) and next to it (roughly to the south-east) is the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (which we were not allowed to see) which is used basically for military launches.
Among the exhibits on display were:
- A "Rocket Garden", featuring a number of rockets from NASA's history.
- Various capsules and satellites.
- Space suits and other equipment.
- Samples of moon rock.
- A Saturn 5 rocket on its side.
The astronaut we listened to was Jim Reilly, a geologist who flew on three Space Shuttle missions and spent time on the International Space Station. He mostly spoke about what it was like in the weightless conditions in orbit. It seems that by-and-large space farers adjust to the conditions fairly easily, even though you may think the absence of the feeling of a downward direction would be completely disorienting. He did tell the story of a fellow astronaut who, shortly after returning from space, let go of his drink in mid-air, expecting it to stay there.
The highlight of visiting the Space Center was getting to witness an actual launch. It was the launch of an (unmanned) Atlas 5 rocket, sending a GPS satellite into orbit, It may not have been as spectacular as a Space Shuttle launch (let alone a launch of the gigantic Saturn 5 rockets used in the Apollo program), but we were fortunate to see any sort of space launch at all.