Trip Start Nov 29, 2011
99Trip End Mar 01, 2012
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What I did
Awesome! As the Americans would say, just about sums up today. We made our way to Kennedy Space Centre which took about an hour to drive. The last few miles of the drive are on NASA property with part of it being a road with the sea on both side, of course Claires thoughts were if we have a tsunami now.......
The overnight rain had given way to bright sunshine so hoping for a nice day we risked putting the shorts on again, it's been a while.
We opted for the up close tour, this involved a guided tour of the launch pads and the vehicle assembly building. We started with a wander around the rocket garden, these things are massive especially the Saturn V rocket
We didn’t have long before we had to board a shuttle bus to take us out to the launch pads. There are two pads A and B. They usually tried to use pad A for launches as transporting the rockets or shuttles from the building to the pad with the transporter doing 32 feet per gallon cost a fair bit.
The vehicle assembly building can be seen for miles, it is the large building that you recognise from any launch with the American flag and the NASA sign. The flag itself is 18 storeys high, it just doesn’t look that big, not even in real life.
We thought at first that we had missed out now that the shuttle program has ended, but actually we gained from it because we were now able to access areas that would have been out of bounds before. We were actually allowed into the vehicle assembly building, it is so massive the Saturn V rockets fit inside so they can be worked on. Inside we had a great surprise, the Atlantis Shuttle is still in this building and we were able to get close to it. It was the last Shuttle to fly landing back here last July. It doesn’t look that tidy at the moment, they are in the process of preparing it for permanent display at the visitor centre. The two other shuttles Discovery and Endeavour are here as well before they head off to Los Angeles and New York for display. I feel so privileged to have seen a real shuttle so close up.
There were only ever 5 Shuttles built that went into space, the other two, Challenger and Columbia were lost in tragic accidents
After the assembly building we went out the launch pads themselves, the whole site is remote and an untouched wildlife reserve, we saw alligators on the way to the pad along with turtles, wild pigs and vultures. We also saw a huge Bald Eagle nest that was bigger than a king size bed!
There is an undisturbed beach along the edge of Cape Canaveral as the whole area is restricted, between NASA and the air force base there is over 220 square miles of land that is out of bounds to general public.
Next we went into the Saturn V centre, here they have one of the Apollo spacecraft attached to a Saturn V rocket, I think it is Apollo 8. As we walked in, the size is overwhelming. The 5 rocket exhausts towered over us and the rocket took up the whole length of the building, longer than a football field. The actual lunar module is tiny compared to the rocket which is really a huge fuel tank which is emptied in about 2 and a half minutes (just like my car).
There were a lot of exhibits and I was in my element, it was all so interesting
We finished the visit in the Imax theatre with a 3D presentation about the International Space Station. The effects were amazing and such good use of the 3D effect especially when one of the astronauts threw an orange towards me and I felt like I had to catch it (I didn’t actually do it).
By the time we came out of there it was nearly closing time and just a quick scan around the gift shop before heading back. We hadn’t even managed to go to the Astronaut hall of fame but there is so much to do. The ticket does allow us to go back but not sure yet if we will do that. It would have been nice to go next Thursday as there is a planned rocket launch but we are heading down to South beach before then as it stands.
Another day that will be hard to beat!