When you first arrive at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, one of the most dominant aspects is the Rocket Garden. Here, real rockets tower into the sky, pointing upward as if a constant reminder of the ultimate goal: SPACE.
The massive rockets allow you to see just how large an undertaking the space program was when the US first set its collective mind on reaching the stars. Enjoy this video for a glimpse of the Rocket Garden and then the Early Space Exploration Center.
Next we got an opportunity to eat lunch with an astronaut. I absolutely loved this! First of all, the food was much better than my family would get at home. [Note: I don’t cook.]
Next, the audience was kept small in order to give an intimate feeling as Astronaut Sam Gemar made his rounds, patiently answering questions, shaking hands, and kissing babies. [Okay, he probably didn’t kiss anybody.]
We shared our table with a family from South Africa who brought their three young boys to KSC. Gemar spent quite a bit of time with us, sharing his incredible knowledge. Fast fact: 1 in 15 astronauts are killed in the line of duty. So, yeah, they deserve our utmost respect!
Gemar then gave a brief general Q&A session, where the favorite question was whether there are aliens in space. He explained that he hoped there were, as space is a pretty large place, but as of now we had no aliens on Earth. To which a boy of about four years old loudly exclaimed, “Yes, there are aliens on Earth!” [Note: Could have won $10,000 if I had caught that on video…too funny!]
After lunch, we were greeted by Lesley Llerandi who graciously drove us around the property to see some exciting things up close:
- The Vehicle Assembly Building–VAB, which is absolutely mammoth!
- The “crawlerway”…tracks still visible from the last time the Shuttle was brought out
- Launch Pad #39B, close-up drive by and then from a special viewing place by the beach
- We also saw Launch Control
Some of these close-up stops are available to the public for a slightly elevated tour price; it’s well worth it!
We ended at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This was my husband’s favorite stop. It gives you a great review of the historical importance of the early space program, which was nice for my son and nephew to hear. Then you get to see the actual launch control of the first missions before moving on to see a real Saturn V rocket…larger than a football field in length! Whew!
All in all, the Top 5 was so honored to have been shown around Kennedy Space Center. Not only do we recommend it as a “must-do” stop for tourists, but for any locals, if you are like me and have never been before, be sure to do yourself the favor by visiting this Central Florida gem. And, if you have already been , I strongly recommend going to see what’s new.
It’s hard to keep in mind in our magical city, where so much make believe is fantastically brought to life, that Kennedy Space Center is the real deal. It’s our history, our present, and our future!