Day 17–Kennedy Space Center

Phil has asked to visit Kennedy nearly every trip for the last 4 or 5 trips, and for various reasons it’s just never happened.   We last visited 11 years ago when Katie was 3, and she was a bit young and quite scared of most things so we didn’t see much of it.

So,  today,  we set the alarm early and were up and in the car by 8:00.   I am using a free SatNav called Navfree which said we would arrive at Kennedy Visitors Centre by 9:30.  It all sounds good.

We set off,  and Phil mentions he’s got enough petrol for 80 miles,   and the satnav says the journey will be 65 miles.  He thinks this means we are ok,  but I think perhaps it might be a good idea to fill up.   We pulled off the Beachline near Seaworld and stopped at the first petrol station.   It was like something that time forgot.  It was in a shopping complex where all the shops were shut,  and you could just see the tumbleweed blowing across the forecourt.   It was really quite creepy.  Anyway,  they had petrol,   so that was good,  and we were soon back on the road and on our way to Kennedy.  The Satnav took us straight there, and we were soon crossing the bridge to Merritt Island.   We visited here a few years ago with Penny and Detmar.      Shortly thereafter,    we pulled into the ‘Vistors Centre’,  the Merritt Island Visitors Centre.     Which is not where we wanted to be.

We could see a sign for Kennedy,  so we followed that,  and we ended up at a gate to the Kennedy Space Centre.   A back gate.   A very nice gentlemen with a large gun explained that we were at the North Gate, and couldn’t go in that way.  He gave us a slip of paper with directions to the main gate.     A mere 16 miles away.   So that was approx a 30 mile detour….

We followed the new directions,  and found the gate,   just a little bit delayed from our anticipated arrival.

It’s free to park and we are pretty close,  and then we head to the ticket booths to buy tickets.  On our last trip, 10 years ago, this was chaos,  and it hasn’t changed.  I should have really bought the tickets in advance.  Anyway,  we eventually get our tickets and make it into the park.

We decide to start with the bus tour,  and get straight on a bus to the observation deck.

IMGP4895 We see some aligators on the way there.

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We went up to the top of the viewing platform and took quite a few photos.   Unfortunately, the space program is ‘inbetween jobs’ at the moment,  so there are mostly just a lot of empty platforms to view.

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We don’t spent too long here,  once you’ve seen one tower you feel like you’ve seen them all.   We get back on the bus and our next stop is the Apollo building.   This is definitely the highlight of our day.

You start by watching a film about the start of the space program,  from the Russian’s Sputnik,  to the fire in Apollo 1.   Then you are led through into a control room,   and you experience the takeoff of Apollo 7 from inside the control room.

These are the actual desks from the control room (and I don’t know why the photo is blue)

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It’s a really clever presentation,  they have the original recordings, and each desk lights up as that person speaks,   then as the rocket takes off the sky ‘outside’ turns bright orange and the windows being to shake.

We are all quite impressed, and the kids want to know more about it.

You are then let into the main building where you can see the Apollo rocket.  It’s huge!

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Lunar landing module looks like it was made by Blue Peter from Pipe cleaners and tinfoil.

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Molly touching the moon.

 

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After looking at the rocket for a while, we go into a presentation about the moon landing.  This is really exciting.  I didn’t realise that they had come within seconds of aborting the landing.

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We had some lunch while we were in this building,  and eventually we decide to leave and head back to the main area.   We had all really enjoyed it, and the kids left full of questions.  Molly in particular wanted to know all about Apollo 11, and I don’t have all the answers.  I think we will rent the film when we get home so she can find out more.

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We had an extremely old bus driver on the way back,  and I have to say he was making me quite nervous.  He told us he’d ‘broken’ one bus already,  and he seemed to be all over the road,   he had to drive,  talk on the headset, and operate the video player, and I think that was one task to many!   

We did make it back in one piece,  and just as we got of the bus there was a ride where you could experience a Shuttle launch.   There were an awful lot of warnings,  so Katie decided not to ride.  She and I went and looked around the shop for a while,  and Phil and Molly did the Shuttle Launch experience.    When we met back up with them they said it was awesome, and not that rough so we should have tried it.

They finished their ride just as the 3pm Imax film started,  so we went in and watched a film about life on the International Space Station.   It was quite interesting,  but the 3D wasn’t quite right and I found it really hard to watch.  I had to keep one eye closed through most of it.

The film ended at 3:45,  and the following film about the Hubble didn’t start until 4:30,  so we had a little debate,  but the girls really wanted to watch it,   so had a look at the rocket garden and had an ice cream while we waited.

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We went in and watched the Hubble film,  I have to admit I thought it was a bit boring and I fell asleep.

After the film,  we decided to head home.    Since we didn’t get lost on the way home,  we got home much faster than we expected which was a nice surprise.

We had some pizza from the Boardwalk Pizza window,  and got changed as we still had a big evening planned.

We met up with Dave and Bev at 8pm, and Nicola babysat Molly for us,  whilst we went to Jellyrolls.   There is fortunately no photographic evidence of this evening,  but it was good fun,   although we noticed that the ‘requests’ were suspiciously similar to the requests they played last year.  In fact,    we think the second set was identical.  Phil requested Madness and Spandau Ballet but neither were played.  Although maybe our tip of $1 wasn’t sufficient.

We had a good evening,  singing along and enjoying a few drinks,  and eventually we dragged ourselves away and retrieved the kids and fell into bed.

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One comment

  1. We went to Merritt Island one year. On purpose, mind you – there was a scrapbook shop there *grin*
    It sounds like you had quite the interesting day and I’m quite tempted to try the Space Centre again now. I wasn’t that impressed last time, but that was a good few years ago.

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