Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kennedy Space Center

As Ashley's departure date neared, we solicited advice about what we should do without her. Twenty days is a long time, worthy of a second honeymoon, or maybe by now a second babymoon. Megan suggested we go to the Kennedy Space Center. Immediately our eyes lit up! Yes! The perfect way to spend time in Florida doing something Ashley would tolerate, but not necessarily enjoy.

We honestly had no idea just how much we would enjoy it. 

As soon as we pulled into the parking lot we were told "the first thing you should do is take the bus ride." We could list a few things to do before that, like park, buy tickets, and go to the bathroom, but their point was well taken and we obeyed. On line with us was a large group from Rider University -- located less than two miles from our home in New Jersey.

The tallest one-story building --
the flag alone is the equivalent of a 21-story building
The launch pad where the shuttle missions took place,
future home of the planned Mars missions.
The bus tour was a necessary evil. Our bus was super hot. More than that, though, we felt bad for those passengers who do not speak English. We did not see any translations throughout our trip. You have to take the free bus ride to see the launch site, and to be dropped off at the Apollo missions part of the complex. Once at the Apollo site, you see a presentation (completely in English, of course) about the Apollo launch (gaps to be filled in when I'm in the mood to do the research). They say the room we were looking at is the original room where the launch was witnessed in Houston. I wouldn't be overly shocked if I learned there was a similar set up in Houston. They do bill themselves as another Florida theme park.

Once the movie/presentation was complete we were free to roam around the hanger-like area. This area also had a decent restaurant for lunch. It was very neat getting up close with the rocket

The Apollo VII rocket

Touching a moon rock

Back in the bus to return to where we started. To the right was the Shuttle Atlantis. To the left were two IMAX movies -- one on the Hubble Telescope and a new one on search for planets about the future of the space program.

Atlantis was amazing. She was smaller than I imagined. I was surprised by how much empty space she had, until we saw the Hubble IMAX movie and realized the "empty" space is her trunk. There were stations that talked about how the crew eats, sleeps, etc. 

By being child-free, I felt more free to be a child. Though I was wearing a skirt (and asked several people to avert their eyes when I got out of tricky situations), I climbed through the tunnel and went down the giant slide. While on line for the giant slide (not pictured) there were three little kids who barely made the height requirement, and a bunch of adults. I was probably one of the younger adults. One of the kids turned to his friends and commented "there are only PARENTS on this line, no kids like us." How did he know we were parents if we didn't have any kids with us? I thought it was a silly remark.

In the movie before seeing Atlantis, the main character tosses a model like this in the "1970s" and explains their next goal is to build a reusable rocket.

We rounded out our adventures with two IMAX movies that were also only in English (no headphones with translations offered) and had bad seating policies (they kept telling us to move to the center to make seating easier, but they only opened doors from one side, how does this help?). Fortunately we snagged good seats and speak English.

We ended our full day with a visit to the Rocket Garden and peek at Mars exploration -- past, present, and future. NASA plans to have a manned mission to Mars by the end of the 2030s. I hope to live long enough to be able to witness that historic moment, especially since I missed the first lunar landing by about 6 weeks.

I can't imagine sitting in anything this small for any length of time. The controls were above the astronaut's head. Obviously there was a door sealing him him. I'm claustrophobic just thinking about it.

The present of Mars exploration -- a model of the Mars Rover.

The future of Mars exploration -- what they anticipate the space ship taking people to Mars will look like. Four people will travel 6 months to get to Mars, where they will conduct scientific experiments for over a year before returning home again in another 6 month journey. Prior to the mission, unmanned space crafts will drop off food and supplies. The side of the rocket will have solar panels on it to generate fuel. I'm writing this all here so that in another decade or two as it becomes a reality, I can easily find what I wrote in 2015. Of course 25 years in the future, who knows how we will be accessing the Pillsbury Press.

NASA is trying to team up with corporate sponsors to continue to make space exploration a reality.

If you do go, purchase tickets from AAA before arriving to save money. A tip I hope we can keep in mind in the future, especially since there is now a AAA office about 3 miles from our house on Route 1.

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