During a recent business trip to Orlando, my wife and I took one day to ourselves and drove to the Kennedy Space center. It was a wonderful side trip. We spent nearly the entire day at the center and still didn't see all of the exhibits. I would recommend this trip to anyone. Here are a few photos of our excursion.
Kennedy Space Center is home to the shuttle program and there are several large scale models of the shuttle on display. Even these are impressive. This one stands about 15 feet tall.
The largest building at the facility is the Assembly Building. The shuttle is prepared for launch here, and then rolled out to the pad for blast off. The launch pad is 3.7 miles from this building and it takes about 7 hours to move the shuttle from this building to the launch site. Why so far away you ask. Well, if you are within 1000 yards of the pad at launch, the noise and vibration would kill you...literally. Currently, the shuttle Discovery is being prepared for it's last voyage. After it's final flight, Discovery will be sent to Edwards Air Force Base in California. The Endeavor is flying now. It will return home on June 1 and be reconditioned, then sent to the Air and Space museum in Washington D.C. for permanent display. The final shuttle Atlantis, will fly it's final mission later this year and then be put on permanent display here at Kennedy.
This was my favorite display. It is the actual equipment from Mission Control circa 1968. This is the mission control room that was in operation when Apollo 8 orbited the moon. This is beyond cool. This display is now set in a small theater and there is a moon launch simulation program that you can view from the gallery. Are you starting to see why we spent the whole day here?
Still, another building houses a complete Saturn V rocket. There is a Mercury and an Apollo capsule on display at the opposite end. You cannot believe how big this thing is. If you cut the wings off of a 747 you might get an idea of the size of a Saturn V.
It all started here, with the Mercury capsule. This thing is tiny, and cramped. It takes a special breed of person to strap themselves into this module, sit on top of a Saturn V and go for a ride.
We've come a long way from that first Mercury capsule haven't we? Most of the current shuttle is actually cargo space. It is used to conduct experiments, deliver supplies to the space station and return used equipment to earth for further study.
It was a great day, and if I get back to the area, I will definitely return to the space center for another visit.
We should not forget that our exploration of space has a price. For some, the price to be paid is their life. There is a memorial with this plaque at the Kennedy Space Center. It is a fitting tribute to those who have sacrificed themselves for the benefit of all.