The last full day of our Honeymoon was spent touring The Kennedy Space Center. Here is Adam to tell you all about it.
The Kennedy Space Center is a place of great history for mankind. In addition to the original missions which took man to the moon, more recently it is the place where SpaceX missions now launch. This day of the honeymoon was 100% for me, but I think Mandi was having fun wandering around, watching me geek out a bit. She even went so far as to get a souvenir t-shirt to commemorate the visit. All in all, it was a fantastic visit, and I had the opportunity to view some of the crafts that I had only dreamed of seeing.
We started by walking through the rocket garden where scale replicas of some of the first rockets (see: repurposed missiles) are on display. It is incredible to see the scale of the rockets as pictures never do the size of these machines’ justice.
One thing I was surprised about was how small the mercury capsule was. I have not thought of myself as being very tall, but I was unable to sit in the capsule without banging my head on the side of the craft! To think John Glenn had to fit in this capsule.
I just looked it up and he is 3 inches taller than me and was wearing a space suit at the time, so maybe the model is not exactly 1:1 or there is some aspect not being accounted for because it just doesn’t seem possible.
My favorite moment of the whole visit was getting to see the scale model of the Saturn V rocket. Walking into the building where they had the rocket suspended above the guests was an incredible experience, mostly since the rocket is so massive. Back to the comment about scale, it is clear in pictures that it is a big rocket but seeing it in person put it into perspective. In essence, the NASA engineers had to make a building fly. In all, only a tiny part of the rocket makes it into space, and eventually to the moon.
Compared to this, the space shuttle is a tiny craft. This is mainly due to it being intended for use in low earth orbit only, navigating back and forth between earth and the space station or other low orbit points of interest, like the Hubble space telescope. The main advantage that the space shuttle had was being mostly reusable, which helped to cut down on launch costs overall, though it was still expensive to launch.
The whole time we were walking around the space center, I was sharing what facts I knew with Mandi and she politely nodded and smiled, as I raced off to the next thing! There was one time I made Mandi participate though. Under the Saturn V rocket there was a display with a tiny chip of moon-rock glued to a pedestal. The chip was polished smooth by the countless tourists to have visited before us but was the opportunity to touch a bit of the moon! I was extremely excited for the opportunity and asked Mandi to join me. She replied with, “I’m good…” In response I gave her a determined, “MANDI! When will you next have the chance to touch the moon?!” She reluctantly gave the moon a poke and I was satisfied.
There was also a model of the Hubble space telescope. When I was a baby, my dad worked at the facility where they were building the telescope. At one point, he brought me into the building and held me up to the glass to look at it in person, not that I can remember it as I was only 2 at the time. Now the telescope has orbited earth approximately 200,000 times since it has launched in 1990.
In all these replicas and artifacts represent an important part of human history and it was a lot of fun getting to see some of these up close and in person. The men and women who were responsible for all these incredible achievements will hopefully be remembered for ages to come. To think we went from slide rules and hand worked equations to the supercomputers of today is still mind-boggling.
We also went on a bus tour of the launchpad area. It was amazing getting to see where the crafts launch, as well as getting to see the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The VAB is a monolithic structure where the constituent parts of the rocket are brought together into the final product. In the time of the Space shuttle, it would be loaded onto a massive crawler which would then slowly work its way onto the launch pad with the complete rocket perched on top of it.
The tour guide also pointed out the SpaceX launch pad. When launches do happen, there is an exclusion zone where no one can be, in case something goes wrong with the rocket during launch. Even so, I have seen in videos that launches are colossally loud despite observers being a mile or more away.
I certainly look forward to visiting the space center again and hope to be there for one of the many launches we can expect in the future. All in all, this was an excellent stop on our trip, and I was happy to be able to spend my time exploring the grounds with Mandi. May we have many years of adventures (including a few more where Mandi just politely nods and smiles) ahead of us still!