With the around-the-world trip behind them, the traveling maniacs decided to spend 10 days in Florida before heading home. So many people we had met on our trip were from Florida, so we thought we’d give it try.
First stop was the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. This area is so massive that it really takes a full day to appreciate.
Today, the word “awesome” is so over-used that it has lost the power of its meaning. But one of the word’s synonyms, “awe-inspiring”, is a good way to describe the impact the Kennedy Space Center has on the visitor. The center gives one the chance to escape the constant barrage of political negativity that plagues the United States. It reminds us of what America can do, and has done, with unity of purpose. Maybe spending billions of dollars sending people and equipment into space has no legitimate objective. Maybe none of this advances the state of mankind. But there is simply no way to deny the amazement, the awe, of seeing these machines made by humans to propel us into the unknown. The undeniable courage of the men and women who have deliberately put themselves on top of what is literally a tube filled with explosives, allowing themselves to be hurled into space with the expectation and trust that they will return to earth alive is truly “awesome”.
US Astronaut Hall of Fame and Rocket Garden
20-story building where the Mars rocket is being built
Saturn V Rocket
Lunar landing vehicle: Apollo 11–“The Eagle has Landed”
Apollo capsule mockup and actual capsule
Space Shuttle Atlantis
We visited KSC on a Saturday and only missed experiencing an actual launch by a couple of days, a Space X rocket preparing to blast off on Monday. We did see the rocket on its pad getting ready to blast off and were able to watch it live on TV a couple of days later. The mission was to launch a top-secret “reconnaisance” satellite. But the most amazing thing about this particular launch was the return to earth of the solid fuel booster. Here’s what we’re talking about: notice the two white solid fuel boosters on the space shuttle rocket. Normally, after the payload is about to be placed in orbit, these re-usable boosters drop off, re-enter the atmosphere and land in the ocean. That was the case in the space shuttle launches and the boosters then had to be recovered, an often tricky and dangerous phase of the operation.
With the Space X launch, the payload sat atop one of these boosters. After the booster dropped off and began to re-enter the atmosphere we watched in amazement as the booster was maneuvered as it fell so that it landed exactly on the landing pad where it had been launched several minutes before! No more ocean recoveries. It was absolutely incredible. Then all the Space X team needs to do is re-fill the booster, give it a new paint job and it’s ready to blast off again. Well, maybe not that simple but you get the idea.
Thanks for reporting on your visit to NASA! Very interesting! I followed Dr. Kelly, one of the recent astronauts while he was on the ISS. The photos he took from the ISS were so beautiful and amazing. He did some ‘live’ transmissions , Q and A’s . It was fun to be connected to that world for awhile.
Hi Kathleen. KSC was an amazing place. Coincidentally, I just read an article about “Emergency Medicine In Space”, a topic discussed at the recently concluded Euroanaesthesia Congress held in Geneva. Kelly talks about some of the challenges of medical treatment in space, especially on long-term missions like missions to Mars.
I really enjoyed your photo of one of the Mercury capsules. As a kid in Norfolk, I actually saw one of the capsules after it had been retrieved from the Atlantic. I remember looking in it and wondering how a man had ever fit in there, and being sure that there was no way I would have volunteered for that mission. Those original astronauts were a very special breed of men!
You got that right, Chip. Even the Apollo three-man capsules were pretty tight. That must have been pretty cool seeing one of the Mercury capsules after being fished out of the drink. If you ever get a chance to visit KSC you should do it.