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Kennedy Space Center…

Posted by on March 2, 2017

WE TOOK A TOUR BUS. From Orlando, it’s just over an hour’s drive to the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast, adjacent to Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Ocean. We left “home” early with our friends Ben and Suzanne and arrived at KSC on schedule in about an hour. The Space Center is huge, with lots of buildings and exhibits spread over a very large area, far too large to explore on foot. But we took a NASA bus took on a narrated tour to even the most remote facilities and it was a pretty special trip. It’s awe-inspiring to get an up close view of the facilities that have actually constructed the launch vehicles, pads and even NASA’s Atlantis, one of the actual space shuttles. It’s on display in the Visitor Complex, suspended with its payload bay doors opened such that it appears to be back in orbit around the Earth. A multi-story digital projection of Earth rotates behind the orbiter. Atlantis returned to Earth for the last time on July 21, 2011. By the end of its final mission, Atlantis had orbited the Earth a total of 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 miles.

Space Shuttle Atlantis behind a guy who’d not been selected by NASA to fly it. 

Just one section of Atlantis…massive!

The “arms and hands” of Atlantis were constructed in Canada, much to the delight of our Canadian friends.

Actual seats where the engineers controlled and monitored the space flights.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER. The Center is one of ten space administration field centers, and since 1968 it’s been NASA’s primary launch center for human spaceflight. Launch operations for the Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs were carried out here, and most of us remember when Apollo 11 blasted off on July 16, 1969. Just four days later, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. He famously proclaimed, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  We also recall the tragic disaster on January 28, 1986 when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart just 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members.

United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

 

Transport vehicle which moved the spacecraft from its construction site to the launch pad. This tracked vehicle moved at the rate of one mile per hour. That’s right…one mile per hour.

 

Cockpit area of Atlantis. Behind it is the part of the spacecraft where the astronauts worked while in space.

 

 

Re-entry capsule. One of my old high school friends who became a Navy Seal had the honor on one of the shuttle flights to be one of the swimmers who greeted the astronauts in the water after after splash-down. “Welcome home!”

Imagine how disastrous things would have been if I’d been at the helm!

 

 

Actual space suit worn by one of the astronauts.

 

A LONG BUT REWARDING DAY. Including driving time, it was about an 11 hour day. But if any of you are ever in Central Florida, don’t miss an opportunity to visit the Kennedy Space Center. It’s one of those experiences where you learn lots of interesting information, see the actual vehicles used in space exploration, ride in a simulator that seemed pretty realistic and leave with a pretty good feeling about being an American. I didn’t hear a soul talking about our presidential election all day long…refreshing and a nice break from what’s become an unabated reality in our daily lives.

I’ll continue my story next time.

4 Responses to Kennedy Space Center…

  1. Annie Skarie

    Have been there and also saw two shuttles take off. Not your every day sort of thing. Glad you had fun.

  2. Greg Alford

    Hi Annie…

    Good to hear from you. Yeah, KSC is pretty amazing. We didn’t see any take-offs, but we enjoyed the tour and the interactive exhibits. Hope you’re enjoying your time in Texas! Give Roger our best.

  3. John

    Great To ‘see you up and about’.

  4. Greg Alford

    Thanks! I had no problem climbing into the Atlantis simulator for a ride I’ll not soon forget. Just one short year ago I’d never have dreamed I’d ever be able to do it!

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