Winter seems harsher each year that passes. For many years I’ve traveled southward to escape — temporarily that is. It wasn’t clear that I’d have this luxury this year until a few days ago. Some friends invited my partner and I down for a week–this week. Unable to resist a “free” vacation naturally we said yes.
Today was day one of our winter vacation. Staying in Orlando opens up myriad options for fun and travel. Today was spent at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in east Florida. As a kid I loved reading books and comics about space; or viewing every movie or TV show on the subject. Doesn’t this just conjure up a lot of memories:
From over 10 miles one can begin to see the larger structures of the KSC. This is the main assembly and storage facility — it’s nearly 50 stories high capable of holding three Empire State buildings. And it’s the sixth largest building in the world based on volume.
The stripes on the US flag are each over 6 feet wide. Every major rocket used for the space program has spent time in this building.
We soon drove into the parking lot — each section is named after an astronaut. We parked in the Wally Shira lot.
The Space Center offers a variety of tours, locations and attractions. The issue is time management so one can experience as much as possible –so much and so little time:
Launchpad 41–the three large towers below are lightening rods. Florida is the leading place in the world for lightening strikes so every launch site has rods.
This is launchpad 36. Each pad has a gravel road that is over 10 feet deep and covered with a layer of smooth river rock so the huge movable gantries can transport the rockets from assembly buildings to the launch site. This makes for a smoother ride and less chance of fire via friction:
Eventually landing at the Apollo/Saturn enter which houses some incredible artifacts and relics of glory past. Below is one of the Saturn rockets — the most powerful machines man has ever created. It stretches the length of the building that houses it — the rocket is over 400 feet long. Here are two views of the machine:
Artifacts representing most of the space flights and their passengers are situated throughout the building too.
A moon dune buggy — to think this jalopy was on the moon since 1972:
the dune buggy had to be assembled on the moon — no other way could meet the space issues of the smallish space capsule:
and clothing used for the flights into space: this was worn by Jim Lovell of Apollo. 13 and
And this suit was worn by the last American astronaut who had travelled to the moon Eugene Cernan.
These hands were copied for the Armstrong crew who were the first to land on the moon and then walk on it. This practice is the norm for every astronaut because each set of space clothes is made specifically for each individual. This practice is followed for each astronaut:
Did you know that the whited smoke that’s emitted during a launch is actually steam created by the passage of water over the superheated engines of each rocket?
Leaving this site took us to the IMAX theater where saw a film on space exploration. The highlight of the IMAX show was the of the quest to go to Mars. NASA would use a capsule twice the size of this Apollo space craft. These future trips will be handled by NASA in conjunction with SpaceX a venture owned by Elon Musk (the creator of Tesla Motors — electric car developer and advocate).
It was an incredible day that was topped off up by a visit to the fallen astronauts memorial– all their deaths came by fire. They aren’t forgotten, in fact, the newest rockets being developed for future human led trips to Mars. The 20 names are embossed on this structure:
There so much to do and see I decided to comeback at another time to complete my “education”.
Mars or bust by 2035!