Revisiting history at the NASA Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Florida

On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that took man to the Moon, sharing experiences from my visit to the Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida from where the The Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle was launched.

To most tourists, Florida is known to most for its pristine beaches, beautiful seascapes and a care-free lifestyle. However many do not know the important role played by the Sunshine state in the historic space programs of the United States, that took it to the frontiers of space exploration and research.

Couple of reasons that lead to Florida being the  place of choice for many of the space launch programs:

First, its closeness to the ocean meant that spacecraft can be launched over open water—a safer alternative to launching over populated areas.

Second, its proximity to the Equator means that Earth’s spin there is slightly stronger, giving an extra boost to spacecraft as they lift off into orbit.

The Kennedy Space Center which was built in 1963 provided the boost required towards the nation’s ambitious space program and by 1969, Apollo 11 ready to take off to fulfill President Kennedy’s goal of placing man on the moon.

At less than an hour’s drive from Orlando, the Theme Park capital of the world, the Kennedy Space center draws just 1.5 million visitors annually which is a fraction of visitors to the theme parks.

Trust me, one visit to this place and you will regret not having visited it. I am so excited to share my experience and what better day to share this posts than on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 missions.

A full day tour to the Kennedy Space Center includes the wonderful experience of bus rides through the campus giving visitors view of the launch platforms, launch vehicles, the rocket assembly building (which is so tall, it has its own weather), astronauts quarters and many such interesting places.

Check out the the link to a day’s Itinerary at the end of the post.

The Rocket Garden

Flags on Nation having presence at the International Space Station

The Space X building

The Water Tower to the right helps diffuse the intensity of sound from the rocket engines during a launch.

Pads bearing extreme punishment from the heat of rocket launches

One of the 2 crawlers that take rockets from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the Launch Sites

The Crawler taking the launch vehicle over the specialized Gravel path to the launch site.

Picture source: NASA

Lets pause here for a moment to talk about these magnificent machines without which it would have been impossible to take a fully assembled launch vehicle from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the actual launch site.

The Vehicle Launch Assembly Building ( It is so big, it has its own weather !!! )

Image Source: WIKIMEDIA

 

Fuel Economy: 125.7 Gallons/ Mile and Maximum Speed of 2 MPH

There are 2 crawlers operational at the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex. Here are some interesting stats ( Source: NASA)

Height:
20-26 feet
Size:
31 feet long, 113 feet wide
Weight:
5.5 million pounds
Fuel Capacity:
5,000 gallons
Fuel Consumption:
42 feet per gallon, 125.7 gallons per mile
Maximum speed:
2 mph

Once you are done with the bus tour, you can visit one of the many other attractions like the Atlantis Building, the Rocket Garden, Apollo/Saturn V Center and many more.

At the Apollo/Saturn V Center you can experience a simulation of the lunar launch as coordinated from the Command Center. The actual setup is still in place.

Did you know

Despite all the advancements in technology and development of new launch vehicles, the Saturn V remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket to have ever existed till date.

Touch the Moon !!!

When you are at the Apollo/Saturn V Building do not miss your chance to what may be the only extraterrestrial object most of us will ever touch in our lifetime – An actual Moon Rock.

That is a rock from the MOON !!!

 

A REAL SPACE SHUTTLE !!!

At the ATLANTIS Building, you can check out the actual Space Shuttle that was used in multiple space missions until it landed for the final time at the Kennedy Space Center on 21 July 2011.

This is the real deal, not any replica !!!

The Robotic Arm was constructed by Canadian Aerospace Company Spar Aerospace and called the Canadarm

While lots of effort and resources are being employed in space exploration and missions, not all of them bring success. Some prove fatal and result in loss of lives. We should not forget them and always remember their sacrifice. 

Fallen Friends and Heroes at the Atlantis Building

Kalpana Chawla – the first woman of Indian descent to go to space. She died on February 1, 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, along with the other six crew members.

 

Watch a real Rocket Launch !!!

Yes you can actually do that if you plan in advance.

You can watch a real life rocket launch if your travel plans coincide with any of the launch dates found at

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/launches-and-events/events-calendar/see-a-rocket-launch

Also to make the most out of your day, Check out the detailed itinerary at the official website to plan  your day 

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/info/itineraries

Lastly, do not forget to explore the world’s largest space shop located right within the center.

  This post would be incomplete without this photograph.

Apollo 11 Official Crew Portrait

Source: NASA

As Neil Armstrong said

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind

 

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