Written by the Warrior
I went to my first planetarium show when I was 9 years old and was instantly smitten by the fascinating world of space science.
In fact, this trip to Central Florida has reminded me that my first “dream job” was to become an astronomer. According to my 9 year old mind, how cool would it be to make a living looking at the stars!? While it still sounds cool, I think that I would likely get really bored. I would definitely have to move to either the Big Island in Hawaii or the dry Chilean deserts for work – which is not sounding too badly right now, in the middle of a Canadian winter.
Of course, the science of space exploration is anything but boring, and we found out just how cool it was on our recent visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre.
NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and according to its website, it was established in 1958 by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Kennedy Space Centre is located on Merritt Island and according to our bus tour guide, the undeveloped part of the islands is protected as part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This made this island an unique blend of two things that are dear to my heart, nature and exceptional human ingenuity.
It is an actual working facility, where Space X and Boeing are currently launching satellites and supplies into space (Here is the launch schedule) and where NASA is currently developing its next generation rockets for Mars missions (note: NASA does plan on bringing back their astronauts).
It is an immensely large facility and an absolutely awesome place to visit. We spent 2 full days here, which was just the right amount of time – though be warned, we are a family of Engineers, so there might be some bias.
We began our visit at the Rocket Garden, which was decorated with actual spent rockets of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.
This (photo below) is an F-1 engine, which was used on the Saturn V rockets during the Apollo programs sending astronauts to the moon.
Next, we took a bus tour to see the Apollo/Saturn V Centre.
I thought it was simply a shuttle service from the visitor’s complex to the Apollo/Saturn V Centre, but as it turned out, it was actually a tour.
With a bus driver/guide who took us around the various working facilities, told ok jokes, presented us with space science information, and pointed out the wild life that was all around us.
Here is the Vehicle Assembly Building where the next generation rockets are being built (apparently as of right now). The smaller building to the right is the launch control centre.
Here is the historical launch pad 39A, where all missions to the moon and all space shuttle missions were launched.
This is portions of the Saturn V rocket used on the Apollo program. A replica of the moon lander is the spider shaped craft on the left.
Here we watched a simulation of the events of the first moon landing from the “Mission Control”. Where technical difficulties almost aborted the mission.
Here is a moon rock.
Then we took the bus tour back to the main visitor’s complex to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis. These are the actual rockets that were used to launch the actual space shuttle.
This is the actual space shuttle Atlantis that was in service, sending astronauts to the International Space Station for 25 years.
In addition to other fun and cool things we saw and experienced in this building, such as the shuttle simulator, we got to meet a robonaut.
By now, it was close to 5pm and we had spent an entire day at the Kennedy Space Centre. Before heading out, we saw an IMAX film and then went to see a music and light show, which were projected onto the rockets in the Rocket Garden.
It was a beautiful and spectacular sight…
… Before heading back to Cape Canaveral on a rare full moon Christmas night.