My visit to America so far has seen me sample the high life in Miami, air boat my way around the Everglades, soak up the sun in some very Beachy destinations and now it was going to Space. America is well-known for many things but NASA and the Kennedy Space Center has to be one every tourist knows about.
Located on the aptly named Space Coast, who’s very name suggests you’re heading off to ride the biggest scariest amusement at the theme park (some might say that’s exactly what they were going for). Driving into the area I’ll have to admit it I was pretty darn excited, I mean they launch big metal containers from here into space which is like the biggest boys toys you could ever play with.
The first activity for the visit was a simulation of a rocket launch. Said to be the most realistic experience you can have, without actually strapping yourself into the real deal that is. Imagine one of those flying simulators you get into that shakes and moves around and you’ll get the picture. Somehow I think the real thing would be a lot scarier but hey I’m no astronaut.
The walk leaving the simulation however was really fascinating. Walking down a winding walkway that has a portal to earth at the bottom giving you that “you’re in space feeling” as you pass by plaques of all the missions into space. It was there that I realised that there has been a massive number of rockets launched up into the big blue above. I guess being in Australia it’s less of an important historic fact for schools to focus on teaching us about flights into space.
Having explored the main buildings we then headed for lunch with a real life (retired) astronaut. Well when I say we I mean a room full of other eager tourists all hoping to speak with someone who’s been into space. Our illustrious astronaut was John Blaha, veteran of 6 flights including a 4 month stay on the Russian Mir Space Station. While its difficult to give a talk to a bunch of tourists his short session was a nice little insight into the life of a space man.
Following lunch was the most exciting part of the day, driving down around the launch site and looking inside the massive vehicle assembly building (4th largest building in the world going on volume, not bad considering it was built way back in 1965). Stopping at the viewing areas near one of the launchpads it was amazing to just stand there admire a moment in our history, the place where man went to the moon. I’m sure many years into the future people will look back and say “you travelled to space in that, were you crazy”.
The conclusion of the visit to the Kennedy Space Center was a re-enactment of a rocket launch from mission control followed by a brief look at some of the space suits and various items returned from space.
Was it worth visiting? oh yes. This is the site that has been used for every manned NASA flight into space since 1968, what isn’t cool about that. And while I wouldn’t put it on the same level as going to Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower I still think if you are planning a big America trip then this has to be on your to see list.
As a tourist attraction its ticks all the boxes I think but perhaps thats a question for my American followers, what do you think of the space center. I’m sure many of you have grown up knowing NASA and shuttle launches quite well. Does it hold any meaning to you? let me know in the comments below.