Kennedy Space Center

Russell and I went to the Kennedy Space Center this weekend (1/11/97). It is a really neat place. One thing that surprised me is that it is also a Wildlife Refuge. On the bus tour we must have seen 6 or 7 alligators. Just floating in the swampy water or sunning themselves on the grass. We also got to see a bald eagle's nest. It was 10 feet wide and 6 feet tall. Can you imagine?

They had space related stuff there too. *smile* There is a building called Apollo/Saturn V. The building houses a real 363-foot long Saturn V moon rocket. (Point of Interest: The rocket used to be outside. It was starting to corrode due to the Florida weather. A Buffalo, NY company was contracted to build Apollo/Saturn V to protect the rocket.) You can see inside parts of the rocket. Those astronauts did not have a lot of space to move around.

The highlight of our trip was the Shuttle Launch. Russell and I were lucky enough to witness the Space Shuttle Atlantis launch on Sunday morning at 4:27am. I never saw anything like it.

On Saturday night, Russ and I went to bed at 9:30pm and got up at 12:30am Sunday morning. We packed up our stuff (We were staying at Crawford's Cocoa Cabanas in Cocoa Beach, Florida) and headed for the Kennedy Space Center. We arrived about 1:30 and boarded a bus at 2:00. The bus took us to Satellite Road. We got off and grabbed a spot on the dewy grass to wait for the launch. We were 7.5 miles away. It was only 2:45am and we had a while to wait. The temperature was 38 degrees. So, we chatted with our neighbors, a nice family on vacation, and tried, unsuccessfully, to stay warm.

At 4:20 or so, all of the outside lights went out and everyone fell quiet. It was pitch black and the stars were bright. We chose to use binoculars but you really didn't have to. I was worried I wouldn't be able to focus mine. The 6 minutes flew by. We could hear the countdown over a loudspeaker.

Suddenly we didn't notice the cold anymore. We were in awe. Fire and smoke erupted from the shuttle. It didn't move for a couple of seconds, then slowly it lifted. The whole sky was lit up. It was like a dark daytime. It certainly made the experience seem a bit surreal. The roar was awesome but the ground didn't shake like I thought it would. As the shuttle rose, it shot off to the right and got smaller and smaller till finally it was just a bright star. The whole thing lasted about 2 minutes.

Watching the Shuttle launch was amazing. I know I'll never forget it.

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  • The Prices weren't bad. A bus tour was $8 and the IMAX movie tickets were $5.
  • I was very impressed with the Saturn V rocket. It was a sight to see.
  • The Shuttle Launch was a once in a lifetime experience. I highly recommend it. A night-time launch is more dramatic than a day-time launch. It's worth losing a little sleep.
  • The Wildlife Refuge made the Space Center even more interesting. Everywhere you went there were animals (lots of hawks, Russell likes hawks). Apparently, there are 15 near-extinct species in the area.
  • My biggest complaint had to do with the movies they showed. (Not the IMAX movies) In the morning, at Apollo/Saturn V we watched a short movie about the moon landing. There was a shot of a woman watching the seen on television wiping a tear from her face. She was followed by someone else and then two men wearing turbans. They were newsreel type shots. In the afternoon, back at the visitors center, we watched a movie about Apollo 13 and how the Astronauts were in danger. Who flashes across the screen? The woman wiping her tears!!!! I couldn't believe it. Not too long after that I saw the two men with the turbans all upset because the astronauts were in trouble. Wasn't it just this morning that those same two men were awed by the sight of man taking his first step on the moon? I have to say this really disappointed me.
  • The Prices were confusing. I paid $5 for my movie ticket but the price on the ticket read $6. Also, there was a Group Sales booth that had tour and IMAX price information on a board behind the counter, yet they wouldn't allow you to buy the tickets at the booth. People had waited in line just to find they couldn't buy the tickets.

Kennedy Space Center

General Information

Hours: 9:00am - 6:00pm

First Aid: Nurse on duty from 9:00am to 5:00pm

Pet Kennels: Available free of charge

Groups: Advance reservations are recommended for tour and school groups. Call 407-452-2121 ext. 4356.

Note: Kennedy Space Center is a working space flight facility. Exhibits and tours may be altered or closed due to operational requirements.