With about five to six hours at my disposal, I arrived bright and early at KSC's Visitor Center. Yes, I was excited as all get out! The day was overcast with occasional light showers, but I didn't care. It was now or never.
|Inside the Visitor Center|
|Let the Tour Begin!|
Our first stop would be the 60-foot-tall Launch Complex-39 Observation Gantry with 360 degree views. Visible were a few of the difference launch complexes at KSC. LC39 has two pads where Saturn V rockets and the space shuttles were launched from. The last shuttle mission (STS-135) launched from Pad A below.
|Launch Complex 39 - Pad A|
|Launch Complex 37|
Also visible from the Observation Gantry is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and the Launch Control Center.
|Vehicle Assembly Building & Launch Control Center (in front)|
The buses run every 15 minutes so when you have had your fill at the Observation Gantry, you hop on the next available bus to go to the Apollo/Saturn V center.
After a short movie presentation, you move into a launch control center and experience a launch simulation from the early days of the Apollo program. The windows above you rattle and the room vibrates as the "rocket" lifts off. I felt like a little kid all over again.
|Launch Control Center|
|Stages of the Mission as it Progresses|
You then enter a large hall filled with an actual Saturn V Rocket with its various stages. It is massive! I thoroughly enjoyed looking and learning about this rocket.
|Bottom of the Saturn V Rocket|
|Service & Command Modules|
|Another View of the Service and Command Modules|
|Astronaut Van - Looks Like the Start of a Motorhome|
There was a gallery of other Apollo related items worthy of exploration and review.
|Apollo 14 Capsule|
|Space Suit Worn by Astronaut Alan Shephard|
|Vehicle Assembly Building|
Back at the Visitor Center, I had lunch and no, it wasn't of the freeze-dried variety with a side of Tang. It started to rain again which gave me the opportunity to walk around some of the other exhibits in the complex. I tried to dock a spacecraft with the International Space Station on a simulator and failed miserably. Guess that shows that I don't own an Xbox or PlayStation! I'm sure a kid could do it easily.
I walked around the Astronaut Memorial, rain or not, and thought back to the time when I was listening to the Challenger lift-off and catastrophe that ensued. Looking at the names engraved on the black granite wall from that mission along with others who have perished was sobering.
I was running out of time and didn't have a chance to wander through the Rocket Garden. Maybe next time. I can visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame then, too. And the new Atlantis shuttle exhibit should be ready as well.
I am so glad I got to spend the hours that I did at Kennedy Space Center.