The Central Florida Top 5 was invited to tour Kennedy Space Center this past weekend, and what a wonderful time! First of all, I am an Orlando native, and I am ashamed to admit I had never been to Kennedy Space Center before, and I suspect I am not alone! [Note: We Floridians tend to become immune to the theme park and attraction advertising, sending our visiting relatives to go without us, nodding our heads because we think we know what is basically there…well, I was wrong about KSC!] It is well worth the short drive down the Bee Line. From the giant rockets and life-size shuttle that greet you, to the interactive exhibits and unique artifacts, KSC is much, much more than I ever realized.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Public Relations Manager @AndreaFarmer, a Twitter friend whose updates I love reading. She graciously showed us around the visitor’s center, instructed us on “must-see” things, and then joined us for the Shuttle Launch Experience. Similar to a theme park ride, this simulator reproduces what it feels like to blast off into space, rumbling seats and all! [Note: 0 to 17,500 mph in a matter of mere seconds!]
The best thing about the simulator, though, is the feeling of weightlessness it miraculously recreates…totally mind blowing! I was joined by my husband @SwimmerJoe as well as my teenage son and nephew. This shuttle ride was their absolute favorite! [Note: The simulator magically transported me back to feeling like a teenager, remembering why I dreamed of becoming an astronaut in the first place.] [Note 2: This dream was shattered while sitting in Astronomy 101 at the University of Florida where I learned Astronomy is basically the title of a really, really advanced math.] [Note 3: Yeah, I dropped the class after the second week.]
Shuttle Launch Experience Highlights:
- Ultra-slick welcome by astronauts who have actually “been there, done that”
- Quick queue for boarding the simulator
- Realistic countdown from Launch Control
- Awesome blast off and then that feeling of weightlessness
- Eerie yet breathtakingly beautiful view of Earth through shuttle bay doors and then again through a giant window in the floor after the ride
- Individual shuttle mission information
- Signatures of those astronauts who have actually achieved Mach 25 (17,500 mph!)
Check out the video below for the video of the first part of our trip.
Next we visited a bit of a “soft opening” for the Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted, an interactive exhibit geared toward the two teenagers in tow. An ultra-cool display greeted us in the size of a giant revolving planet, so real it felt like we were standing on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. [Note: I am allowing my inner-geek to show, aren’t I?]
The Exploration Space exhibit also had different controls/gadgets for the boys to try as well as a neat social media aspect. We could create a post card and then email to friends and even upload it to Facebook.
<——Here’s Top 5 editor Bess standing on the moon! [Note: Ain’t I cool?]
Finally the area had a live show where actor “Ken” told us about plans for future space exploration. The only thing that stands in the way of the Constellation Program going forward is funding. [Note: Congress, please support 40,000+ Florida jobs, the state economy, a pioneer spirit, and the survival of the human race!]
Here’s video of Exploration Space as well as the Hubble Display:
Stay tuned for the second part of our trip…more video and photos coming!