After a healthy breakfast of egg whites and fruit 🍇, we Ubered out to KSC which is about a 30 minute trip from our hotel. Our driver, Amber, was great and full of information about the local area. The trip was very pleasant for $30 USD.
We arrived at KSC about 30 minutes after opening and opted for the special interest tour add on to our ticket which gave us closer access to the shuttle/rocket launch sites. It was the first time we got asked if either of us were seniors 😫😫 as 55 and over got an entry discount. Hubby received the discount 😊. We headed straight over to the waiting area for our 2 hour tour.
During the tour we saw the Shuttle and Saturn V launch pads and learning about these launches was very interesting. Did you know that there has to be a 3 mile clearance radius for a launch? The heat and vibration is so intense they use water to dampen it down a bit. There are huge big water tanks which are apparently depleted within 20 seconds! We had plenty of photo opportunities which was great but it was so cold and windy, getting off the bus to take the pics was rather miserable. It was a bright sunny day but the wind chill must have been only a few degrees Celsius. We saw where the SpaceX rocket is launched from and there was one of its rockets on the back of a semi trailer ready for the next launch which happened to be within the next 24 hours. SpaceX is the company owned by Elon Musk (Tesla).
Some trivia – apparently the movie Apollo 13 is 98% accurate and our tour guide pointed out Armageddon and I Dream of Jeannie filming locations.
In the photos above, hubby is in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The doors on this building are the largest doors in the world at 456 feet high. The doors take 45 minutes to open. Space shuttles were prepared in this building. The inside of this building has now been configured for the Space Launch System (SLS) which will take off (insert pun here) with manned missions in 2019.
At the end of the bus tour we were dropped off at the Saturn V exhibit. That rocket is gigantic and the one on display was the real thing and the Apollo missions were launched with this rocket. The pod that held the astronauts is very near the top of the rocket and quite small compared to the rest of it. The rocket was displayed in a horizontal position and everyone was gobsmacked at its size. Lots of oohing and ahhing and ‘holy shit’ 😁. In this pavilion there is also a memorial that had footage of the recovery of Challenger. Footage I have not seen before of them collecting and trying to put all of the pieces they had found back together.
Given the distance from the main part of the space centre, we had to shuttle (pun intended) back and along the way got to see some of the wildlife. We saw a bald eagle, wild pigs and a few alligators which are quite small and very dark grey compared to Australian crocodiles. Apparently they are not as aggressive as our crocs and are quite happy to sit and sun themselves. I am surprised they even made an appearance given that it was so cold. Below are a few more pics.
Once we were dropped off, we headed over to see the space shuttle Atlantis. After watching a short video, the back wall of the room rose to reveal the shuttle. This was the 3rd shuttle we have seen up close and it was just as impressive. It is displayed on an angle with its payload doors open so you can see inside. Apparently some guy? said let’s make a reusable rocket that takes off vertically and lands like a plane. They scoffed and said it could not be done. Twelve years it took before the space shuttle program took off 😉.
– We visited the rocket garden which housed a number of, you guessed it, rockets but it was too cold to stay outside very long.
We shopped in the largest NASA store in the world and picked up a few souvenirs. There was even a female astronaut in the store signing autographs.
After an exhausting day (we used a lot of energy trying to stay warm), we caught an Uber into Cocoa Beach so we could visit CVS pharmacy and pick up a few things (pain medication is so cheap in the USA). After a Starbucks coffee, we Ubered back to the hotel where we enjoyed another bowl of the awesome clam chowder and the local Florida Lager. We missed happy hour ($2 Budweisers) but the beer is cheap anyway so I didn’t mind.
Next post – Oasis of the Seas