NASA

After two days at Universal we decided not to have such an early start and eventually arrived at Kennedy Space Center at about half past ten. On seeing the amount there was to do, this was not the best idea, which is why we were both pleased to find out that our tickets were actually valid for two days (not including launch day tomorrow). Having found this out we phoned our campsite to extend our stay by an extra night so we could come back to fit everything in. Our first stop was the IMAX theatre to see the first of the two shows, this one on the Hubble telescope. Although it was pretty long that wasn’t a problem because it was fascinating. Although the other IMAX film started just minutes after we came out, we decided to give our eyes a break and head out on the bus tour before the queues got too long. After about a 15 minute wait we were loaded onto a very air conditioned bus and taken to the viewing gantry, a structure several stories high from which we could see Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Discovery all ready for tomorrows launch. This was very exiting, even though it was still covered by all the servicing platforms. It took quite a long time to fight through the rude people to get photos of ourselves next to the shuttle, apparently we are too polite, you should shove others out of the way so you can get your perfect photo! After the viewing gantry we caught the bus again, this time to the Apollo/Saturn V Center to learn all about the Apollo program. By the time the introductory film was over we were both really hungry, so headed to the Moonrock café for lunch, passing under the enormous rocket in the process (more about that in a minute).  Lunch was a bit expensive for what it was, but I suppose with a captive audience they can set the prices to whatever they want. It was still cheaper than Disney though. After lunch we went back to the theatre exit to do the whole exhibit from the beginning. I took pictures of all of the Apollo Mission patches which were hanging from the ceiling as I walked down the room. The rocket was absolutely enormous, almost the entire length of the building, I couldn’t fit it all into one photo.

Discovery on Launch pad 39-A ready for launch tomorrow

We also watched a recreation of the first moon landing in one of the theatres and wandered around exhibitions of space suits and special tools that had to be developed for the astronauts to use (ie. A long handled scoop to pick up moon rocks since they couldn’t bend very far in the space suits). Having seen everything that we wanted to in the Apollo/Saturn V center, we got back on a bus to the main visitor complex. Our first stop was the local area information desk where we phoned the campsite to extend our stay as well as asking the all important question…where is the best place to watch the launch tomorrow? We were given a map with a few viewing options highlighted and advised to get there early to get a good spot, as well as to have a fun tank of gas and to bring plenty of water. That done, we had a brief wander around the shop before heading back to the IMAX building to see the other film, this time about the International Space Station. If possible, I found this even more interesting than the Hubble film, especially after attending a talk at Space Camp in St Andrews from an astronaut who had spent six months there. For me, it was too short, I wanted to know more, but there is comparatively little at Kennedy Space Station about the ISS because it is not yet completed. By this time it was getting quite late in the day so we visited the Astronaut Memorial before heading over to the Shuttle Launch update center to listen to a live presentation. As well as talking about tomorrow’s launch, he also talked about the other things that have been recently launched or are due to launch in the near future (some highly classified). This was very interesting and he also reminded us that our tickets were valid for another day since it was impossible to do everything in one day. Since closing time was very near, we headed to the shop to buy souvenirs, postcards, gifts and freeze dried ice cream before heading back to the car. The drive home was uneventful and we stopped off at Denny’s for dinner and popped into the supermarket to get supplies for the launch tomorrow, before heading back to the campsite for showers and sleep.

 

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