Ahoy from the Kennedy Space Center in FL!
Well, I'm not actually writing this from there as we're still docked in Port Canaveral, but it's what this report is about. You're getting a bit of a tourist report, but hey, cruising is about seeing your surroundings and enjoying where you are!
Our plan was to visit the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday and get under way on Thursday. Then I found out that a launch of a Titan rocket was scheduled for Thursday, so we decided to stick around and see that, as in my book, that would be really cool to see. Things haven't quite worked out as planned, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Kennedy Space Center is located on Merrit Island and not on Cape Canaveral as I always thought. The launch pads are on Cape Canaveral and the facilities are on Merrit Island. Anyhow, enough of the trivia. The Space Center is only about half of an hour from Port Canaveral by car and having been a space junky as a kid, this was something that I wouldn't miss. General admission was $38/pp which is good for two days. A 2.5 hour bus tour is included in the basic admission, but there are more extensive tours available. We signed up for the "NASA Up Close" tour which gives you "the closest viewing of the Shuttle launch pads". There's also a "Cape Canaveral: Then and Now" tour which gets you to the historic launch sites and to the Air Force Space and Missile museum. That tour, with the normal tour, takes upwards of 4 hours, so plan your day because there's a lot more to see when you're done with the tours!
The "NASA Up Close" tour was interesting, but it would have been much better if there was a shuttle sitting on a launch pad. Instead all that you really saw was empty launch pads, which was OK, but not awe inspiring. What was awe inspiring was the vehicle assembly building, which is 44 stories tall and one of the largest buildings in the world. It's so huge that you really loose perspective until you realize that those ants on the side of the building are really men. The air conditioning in the building is extremely complex as it can cause fog, clouds and even rain to form inside!
At the International Space Center we were able to tour mock-ups of International Space Station (ISS) modules and view the assembly area where new modules are being produced. I was surprised to see 5 modules in progress and I was even more surprised when I saw just how large the ISS will eventually become. Of course that depends on them solving the computer problems that are plaguing the ISS right now.
The visitor center also includes dual IMAX cinemas and a new ride that is supposed to simulate a shuttle take-off. I think that the ride is hyped a bit, but kids would love it. The Apollo/Saturn center was one of my favorite stops. It was amazing to see how massive the Saturn V rocket is! The Rocket Park does a good job of displaying many of the rockets that were used to launch our space program and you can go through the retired Explorer shuttle. Believe me, you've got a full day here. We arrived at 10:00 and left at 5:30.
On Thursday a Titan IV rocket was supposed to have launched two classified satellites for the National Reconnaissance Center. Insider information claims that the satellites are designed to track ship traffic. I was going to make a joke about this, but I'm afraid that big brother might be reading this and take my joke literally! :-) Unfortunately the launch was scrubbed at the last minute and has been rescheduled for today.
This launch actually is causing us a problem. We had planned on going along the coast, but there's a large danger zone that extends out into the ocean for 6-8 miles, and that adds too many miles onto our trip. As a result we're going to get ourselves through the Port Canaveral lock and A1A bridge and watch the lift-off from the Banana river. Then we'll head down the ICW as far as we can before anchoring for the night. We'll keep motoring down the ICW until St. Augustine where we'll head off-shore to Charleston.
-- Geoff & Sue
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