Kennedy Space Center
February 2019 - by Josie
‘One Small Step For Man...’
The Kennedy Space Center trip really was a dream come true. In 2018 Dad suprised me and my four boys by announcing he was taking us all to Florida after his retirement. The following February we all jetted off to Kissimmee in Florida for a holiday of a lifetime.
I have always had a fascination for the universe right from when I was very little and I had wanted to either be an astronaut or an astronomer when I grew up... well that didn't happen but astronomy is still a passion of mine and now of my boys.
We were all looking forward to visiting the Kennedy SpaceCenter and it was everything we could have hoped for. There are various tours and exhibitions so I will go through the ones we did one by one. Just a note, we were there for a whole day and didn't get to do the whole thing so I would recommend at least a two day visit.
One of the first things you see when you walk in is the magnificent Rocket Garden where you can find Juno, the first rocket which launched America's first satellite into space. Mecury-Redstone, the first crewed rocket into space (and very similar to the rocket which carried Ham the Chimpanzee in 1961) and Saturn 1B, the first crewed mission of the Apollo Space Program.
To read more about the rockets in the rocket garden head to the Kennedy Space Center website.
Space Shuttle Atlantis
The Atlantis experience was awesome. Outside the building was a full scale tank and rocket booster used to get the shuttle into space. Inside the building we stepped into a dome where we were treated to the history of the space shuttle program. At the very end, the doors unexpectedly opened to reveal the real space shuttle Atlantis. I thought I was going to cry! It was just incredible to see. In the photo above I used my phone for a panoramic picture which is why it looks a little distorted.
Inside the exhibition there were over 60 exhibits and many experiences, such as the Nasa Airstream Van used for transporting astronauts to the launch site, a full scale model of the Hubble Telescope (which was smaller than I thought it would be), simulators, a journey to Mars and the shuttle launch (which was great fun).
Kennedy Space Centre Tour
The Space Center run a series of tours around the launch sites which are not to be missed. We went on the Kennedy Space Center Tour. You can also go on the Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour.
The bus tour lasted around 45 minutes and was very interesting and informative. Along the way our tour guide pointed out the alligators on the sides of the road. The Space Center is actually part of Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve with species of hundreds of birds including Bald Eagles, Manatees in the waters and Sea Turtle nests.
The VAB building (Vehicle Assembly Building) as seen in the photo above is much bigger than it looks, it's huge! It covers eight acres and is 525 feet tall, wow! This is where the rockets and Space Shuttles were assembled.
We also saw the crawler-transporter, a monster machine which is used to transport spacecraft. It's a huge platform with massive tank tracks on each edge.
The tour bus took us to the next exhibition, the Apollo Saturn V Center. On the way there we passed the Boeing, Blue Origin and SpaceX buildings. We all peered out the window as the SpaceX employees waved at us from their picnic lunch spot outside their building.
Apollo Saturn V
The Apollo building contained a fully restored Saturn V Rocket, cleverly displayed in the stages it fired in. At the very end was the Kitty-Hawk Apollo 14 Command Module. It was tiny to say the least!
You could touch moon rock, see the astronauts suits on display as well as the other equipment they used in the missions. The first photo of this article is of part of the Saturn V in the exhibition hall.
Also inside the Apollo/Saturn V exhibition was a theatre containing the real mission control from the 1960s. This featured Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, John Glenn and James Lovell. This was one of my favourite parts of the Space Center. In fact when we got back to our villa after our visit we watched Apollo 13 starring Tom hanks as the great Jimmy Lovell. What great film and they used most of the original dialog between Apollo 13 and Huston Texas too.
Things we didn't do
We missed the Heroes and Legends Exhibition, the IMAX theatres running experiences, the astronaut encounter, how to train to be an astronaut and the early space tour.
We didn't miss the shop though! We called in at the end to collect our booty.