Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Kennedy Space Center

In-between Sebastian Inlet and Anastasia Island, I made a stop at The Kennedy Space Center, near Titusville, Florida, about 50 miles east of Orlando.

I've always been fascinated by the thought of going into space. As a sophomore in high school I remember writing an essay for English class in which I was welcomed back to Earth as the first woman to walk on the moon. Quite a stretch of the imagination for someone who couldn't “get” algebra or trigonometry and disliked science immensely. Well, it was just a work of fiction. At any rate, The Kennedy Space Center was on my list of places to see.

The entrance fee of $38 (+ tax, making it $40 and change) is a bit high, at least in my opinion, but there is a lot to see and do. I got there at 9 a.m., which was opening time, but the bus tours and the Imax Theater presentations don't start until 10 o'clock. So I wandered through the outdoor displays of the different rockets, getting a refresher course in our quest to get to the moon and beyond.

I was reading the brochure that I received when entering and saw that they had something called the “Shuttle Launch Experience” that looked interesting so I headed over that way. It only lasts about 20 minutes but I had just 15 minutes until the Imax movie started so I decided to return later.

They offer two Imax movies but due to time limitations, I was only able to view one of them – Man on the Moon. Now, I've been to Imax movies before but had never experienced one in 3-D. It was magnificent. Really. It was almost worth the price of admission just to see this movie. Talk about in-your-face reality. It just can't be described. I wish I could have seen the other one about the building of the Space Station but it wasn't showing until later in the afternoon.

After watching Man on the Moon, I returned to the Shuttle Launch Experience. The brochure promised that I'd experience the same sensations and feelings that the astronauts do when they launch into outer space. Honestly, I wasn't disappointed at all. You may not feel exactly everything as they do, but you get the sensation of 3-Gs pushing you into your seat and you feel the shaking and bumping just as they would, only not quite as severe, obviously. And once you get “into space” you get that sensation of weightlessness too. This Experience, combined with the Imax movie, really is worth the price of admission!

But that wasn't all. They have guided bus tours to three areas of the Complex (an observation gantry, the Apollo/Saturn 5 Center, and the International Space Station Center). As you go from one area to the next, they show short videos and the bus driver keeps up a rolling commentary about what you are seeing. Once you get to the area they show an 8-10 minute movie and there are displays to see. (And at each stop there is a refreshment center and souvenir shop that they encourage you to visit.) Again, due to time contraints (I had to be at Anastasia State Park before sunset and it was a hundred miles away), I cut my tour short and missed out on the International Space Station Center portion.

I highly recommend a visit to the Kennedy Space Center. However, there is no way you can see and do everything in just one day. If you are going to go I suggest making it into a two day visit, if possible. Your ticket allows for one return visit within seven days of purchase, which is nice (it has to be validated before you leave the first day though). Wish I had known that in advance, I would have gone there the afternoon that I got to Titusville instead of waiting until the next morning. Also, if you get there at opening time, go to the Shuttle Launch Experience first; it starts operating when the Center opens.

Astronaut Snoopy greets you at the entrance to the outdoor display area. Another one of those gray, gloomy days. It was actually a nice day though a little on the chilly side. The sky cleared a bit later in the day, but the clouds never went away.

The videos play as the driver takes you to another stop on the tour.

The business end of the Saturn V rocket.

The Space Capsule sitting atop the Saturn V rocket. You just can't appreciate the size of that assembly until you walk beneath it. It's huge!

As an extra bonus, which was (we were assured by the bus driver) a rare site for the average visitor, as we were heading back from the second stop, we saw them preparing to move the Space Shuttle to the launching pad for its next mission in early February.


Apple said...

It sounds like a lot has changed since we last visited. It's nice that you got to see the shuttle.

Ricky Peterson said...

Thanks for this post. Kennedy space center is located on Merritt Island in Florida.The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was earlier known as the Spaceport USA. best time to visit the city is during the winter.Accommodation facility arevavailable.It is length is around 55 km and is hardly around 10 km wide. The space center covers an area of around 570 square kilometers. For video and details refer Kennedy space center visitor complex