Kennedy Space Center Tour
Florida Guide > Other Activities
Since our childhood we had been fascinated with space exploration, right from the early days of Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn, through the Apollo moon missions of the 60s and 70s, to the present day Shuttle programme. So, as you can imagine, we were full of excitement and eager anticipation as we set off from our Orlando base to visit the Kennedy Space Center, located on the Atlantic coast just east of Titusville.
More seasoned travellers had told us to allow a full day to explore the site so, we decided it would perhaps, be prudent to work out a schedule to get the best out of our visit. First of all we spent a little time in the Visitor Complex to get our bearings, before deciding on our plan of action. We decided to do the guided tour straightaway and then spend the afternoon at leisure wandering through the exhibits around the main complex, which included the IMAX theatres and Rocket Garden.
We had expected the tour to be one of the main highlights of our day and we have concentrated our efforts in this particular article to recount our experiences of that amazing two and half-hour experience.
The buses leave the Visitor Complex about every fifteen minutes and once on board the services of a knowledgeable and friendly guide are provided. The amount of information and technical data was far too much for us to absorb on that first visit, so are going to give you a flavour of what to expect.
First up is the Orbiter Processing Facility, which is where the Shuttle is towed after landing. There it is stripped down before being refurbished and tested for its next mission.
Next is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), which is one of the largest buildings in the world, and, as its name suggests, is where the whole Shuttle assembly is put together before being transported to the launch pad. Unfortunately access is restricted, but your guide will tell you that it has its own microclimate, covers over eight acres, the USA flag on the side needed 6000 gallons of paint and is the size of several football pitches. It really is a huge building and needs to be seen to be believed.
The first stop for exploration is at the Apollo/Saturn V Center which, in essence, is a tribute to the Apollo missions. Here you can wander through the exhibits and gaze in awe at the size and complexity of a massive Saturn V rocket.
Then, finally, we head out to the Launch Pad Observation Gantry to get a view across to the main shuttle launch pads. Just to look out, and recall all the history, triumphs and disasters that have happened from this very spot can be quite overwhelming.
This is a brilliant tour, which takes in much more than is mentioned here, such as the Crawler Transporter which moves the Shuttle the five miles from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad at just one mile an hour along a bed of ‘river rock’.
Definitely one not to be missed.
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Page added on: 26 December 2007
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