Friday, March 22, 2013

Titusville - Kennedy Space Center

the Saturn V launches and the shuttle launches all started here!
For the last day of having a car, we decided to visit the Kennedy Space Center. It's still a working complex but they have many exhibits that turned out to be much better than I expected. With space flight being over 50 years old, I expected dusty memorabilia to dominate the displays but I was totally wrong. The day started out with a ride on a bus to two viewing stations with the last one being under a Saturn V rocket, the moon booster. They had two theater type shows of the first Apollo mission that went around the moon without landing on it and and other show on Apollo 11 that was the first to actually land on the moon. The landing on the moon was not as smooth as I thought I remembered. They had computer gliches just as they were supposed to touchdown that Adrian, the pilot, decides to ignore and they landed at least 3 miles further away than they intended. It was really touch and go for awhile - the fate of future moon missions and the entire US space effort rested on their shoulders as they approached the moon for a landing! The presentations were outstanding. The first one occurred in the actual mission control center, not a mockup.

Three of the five engines for the Saturn V moon rocket - compare their size to the people below
During both shows they replayed the recordings of Kennedy's speech on the goal of the space program to put a man on the moon and return him safely within the decade. I had forgotten how inspiring his speeches were, wow! It sure gives you something to compare present day politicians to, they all come up short.

If Buzz Adrian hadn't set it down perfectly - they weren't coming back!
Riding back to the main exhibit area from the Saturn V exhibits, we took the simulator ride on a Space Shuttle launch. You strap in and the entire room tilts to a 90 degree position to duplicate the feel of being in a Shuttle launch where the starting position on the ground has the astronauts looking straight up, lying on their backs. Once the shuttle takes off, the simulator shakes with the impulses of the engines and it all feels very realistic.

Ann touches a real lunar rock!
I must say that the two shows on the moon missions and the Shuttle simulation was top notch, none better. They spared no expense in bringing a realistic experience. If you're ever in the area, you must see the Kennedy Space Center!!

How's that for a job listing?!
As a hint, it's more cost effective to join the Space Center for a year at $65 than get two $50 tickets. With one $65 annual pass you get the second ticket for $40 and you don't have to pay the $10 fee for parking plus you get 10% off the restaurants and souvenir shops.  There was more to see that we didn't have the time for, namely the two IMAX films. Your entrance fee lets you see everything in the park at no additional cost. It's actually a good bargain for the quality you get.

On Saturday it's back to work! Now it's time to do taxes, how exciting it that! We plan on leaving for points north next Wednesday morning.