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.
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
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.