Road Trip- Kennedy Space Center

I was eleven years old when John Kennedy made his famous, “we choose to go to the moon,” speech, fifteen when Grissom, White and Chafee died during a pre-launch test, eighteen when man first landed on the moon, 24 when Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff and 51 when Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. So I’ve really grown up with the space program. Understanding the significance of the race to the moon with the Russians back in the 60’s and the pride we all felt during that time is hard to explain to someone unless you lived through it. It would be hard for younger generations to understand.
Strangely, there are those who still believe man never went to the moon; that it was all staged on a Hollywood movie set. To those conspiracy theorists , I’d ask you to watch a new documentary that was recently released in theaters, called Apollo 11. It’s fascinating.

I’ve always wanted to visit KSC and see some of the spots where history took place. So on a recent road trip we spent a day at KSC in Merritt Island Florida. There are quite a few exhibits, movies, and hands-on attractions that entertain and educate adults and children. They’ve also done a great job of turning this into a great way to spend a day away from Disney, if that’s your destination. (It’s only about an hour east of Orlando.) From the space shuttle that’s opened up for you to view, to the actual lunar spacecrafts to being able to sit and experience what a shuttle launch might feel like if you were on board at liftoff, to touching a moon rock, it was a fun and educational day.

So here are some of the sights, which only give you a glimpse of what you might expect if you choose to visit.

Entrance

As you enter, JFK fountain with a portion of his speech.

A portion of the rocket garden

The original seven as seen in the Astronauts Hall of Fame

The view across the water at the launch pad.

The Vehicle Assembly Building, at 129,428,000 cubic feet, it is
one of the largest buildings in the world by volume and the largest
single story building in the world. Designed to assemble
large pre-manufactured space vehicle components such as the massive
Saturn V and the Space Shuttle; and stack them vertically onto the
Mobile Launch Platform and crawler transporter.

 

Alan Shepard’s spacesuit with moon dust still on the shoes.

Standing under these rocket boosters at the Apollo/Saturn V Center
was pretty impressive. The photo doesn’t  do it justice.

Astrovans which shuttled the astronauts from their quarters to the
launch pad.

   

Hard to imagine spending any amount of time in something this confining.

   

What the control room looked like on February 20, 1962 as John Glenn
became the first U.S. astronaut  to orbit the earth.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

So if you’re in the area and would like to actually have lunch with an astronaut, think about visiting the KSC. If you’re lucky and time it right, you might even be there for an actual launch, which must be pretty impressive to see.

Oh, by the way…we’re planning to send man back to the moon in a few years.
That should be interesting.

48 thoughts on “Road Trip- Kennedy Space Center

  1. RetirementallyChallenged.com

    We’ve never made that trip but it sounds fascinating. I remember all those events clearly, including feeling awestruck watching the early ones in my parents’ living room on our TV. I’m not sure when we’ll get back to Florida again, but we will definitely put this on our itinerary if/when we do.

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  2. aFrankAngle

    We are of the same generation, so I can appreciate your words about KSC. I haven’t visited, but want to. I think back to how those early flights were televised … schools stopped to watch. We were all glued. Mercury to Gemini to Apollo … awesome … I still remember being glued to a shuttle test flight when the shuttle was attached to a 747, then released to glide home. … and even more. Thanks for sharing this!

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  3. DailyMusings

    We were learning about the space program in school a few weeks ago, when the Israelis launched their space ship to the moon. The teachers I work with could not believe, really couldn’t fathom that I had seen the Challenger explosion live on TV…I remember it so clearly to this day.

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  4. Lynn

    Very cool George! I think it would be quite the experience to witness a launch. I just started watching a series on Netflix called One Strange Rock which you might be interested in. The first episode is told from a space perspective through a number of astronauts. We live on an amazing planet 🌎!

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    1. George Post author

      That show sounds interesting, I’ll have to check it out. I’d love to witness a launch but it takes planning and then there are delays which might be a bit irritating🙂

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  5. Joanne Sisco

    Some moments in time have become ‘freeze frames’ – the first moon walk and the Challenger explosion are just 2 of them. It seems so long ago now.

    My husband was working in the research labs of the University of Toronto back in the 80s when Canada first starting recruiting for astronauts. He applied to the program but ultimately wasn’t accepted … but would go to space in a heartbeat if given the chance.

    Me … I prefer to stay here.

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    1. George Post author

      That’s interesting about your husband. You always wondered what type of person can deal with all that’s involved in the danger, isolation and euphoria that kind of profession brings. Must be amazing.

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  6. Ilona Elliott

    What a wonderful nostalgic feeling this post brought. My Dad was involved in very early space telescope work in the late 50’s and would travel to N.M. and FL for work. He loved it and was proud to be a part of it all. Thanks for sharing this great post George. Brought it all back, and what an exciting and progressive spirit we had back then!

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  7. The Coastal Crone

    Excellent photos! I have been to the Houston Space Center and always wanted to see KSC so thanks for the tour. I am bit older than you, but I lived through those early space days when we watched for satellites circling the earth. Today we seem to take the space program (and women in space!) for granted. It would be educational if it were included on a trip to Disney. Good post!

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    1. George Post author

      Yes, we do take it for granted and YES, a woman should be sent to the moon. I have no doubt that will happen when we go back in a few years.

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  8. roughwighting

    I remember all of these space happenings also. And I cheered on each and every one; mourned with everyone else for those missions that failed. The astronauts’ bravery is a bit crazy weird. I thought the movie FIRST MAN about Neil Armstrong was excellent and caught the feeling of that time (and the astronauts’ courage) perfectly. Looks like a great tour at the Kennedy Space Center.
    I think that now we’re ready for a WOMAN on the moon, don’t you?

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    1. George Post author

      Absolutely and I think that will happen with the next moon landing. That will be fun and overdue to see. You’re right, their bravery and ability to live that life is amazing.

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  9. Book Club Mom

    Oh these are great, George. I have never been down the the space center. I’m sure it is impressive and seeing a launch would be a great experience. I didn’t know we were planning to send someone to the moon again. I remember the first time, watching on the couch with my grandparents.

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  10. Sorryless

    George,

    The scale of it all is so impressive. That building . . my goodness it is ginornmous! As are those rocket boosters. And that suit Shepard wore, a giant in his own right.

    You’ve done it plenty of justice in narration and captures.

    Great stuff, my man.

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  11. Holistic Wayfarer

    That is precious that those historic moments were touchstones in your growing up. We have a version of the K Center out here in CA, an arm of NASA. My boy got to take his photo behind the astronaut gear, his face in the hole.

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