Houston we have a problem…
NASA logo at the Kennedy Space Center
The current absence of a manned programme and apparent lack of anything at KSC didn’t detract me from paying a visit.
Morning rush hour in Orlando
Entrance to the Kennedy Space Center
launch complex pad 39a at the kennedy space center
The scheduling was quite poor and I couldn’t get on all the new tours. There was the old tour I had went on previously but because of the ramp down (temporarily I was told) in operations we could visit the Vehicle Assembly Building or mission control. Unfortunately the schedule meant I couldn’t do both although the driver said on the mission control tour the day before they had one person. Now most people saw that as a disadvantage, I just thought it would be a tour and a half. It says more about me that I was disappointed I couldn’t spend more money but I took the VAB tour, the chance to visit where the space shuttles were put together and the largest single storey building in the world was too good to pass up.
Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building
NASA Kennedy Space Center rocket garden
orion mockup in the VAB at KSC
apollo saturn V centre kennedy space center
apollo saturn V centre kennedy space center
I got the tour bus back to the main entrance and one of the guides said to those on board to go home tell our friends that the Kennedy Space Center is still open and that NASA is still open for business. By this stage in the day it felt like I was visiting a museum, despite seeing the distant SpaceX launch platforms for the resupply flights to the ISS, and the guide sounded slightly desperate and strained. Probably the heat and dehydration clouding my view but that’s the feeling I was left with.
I left via the gift shop (where else) and asked if they had any models of the Columbia shuttle. I had seen them out in the Saturn V building but the assistant seemed a bit taken aback at my request as the only ones on display were the ones that didn’t blow up. He said that it would probably be in poor taste to put them on display and I said that it would mean a lot to me if he would go and ask. I explained that as a kid I sat and watched the Columbia first shuttle mission land on an old black and white tv and that’s the reason I ask. He went off and came back with one. What I didn’t add was that it is one of those mixed memories you have as a kid. The reason why my sister and I were watching it on an old black and white tv was that my mother was having one of her ‘episodes’ and was going nuts downstairs and it wasn’t safe for us to be around her. We both went and hid up the stairs but ran the risk of a beating to turn the tv on with no sound and watch the space shuttle land. So now like all the movies with 80s US kids bedrooms, I too have a space shuttle model!
Just before I headed off I wandered up to take a look at the astronauts memorial, sadly with more names on it than there were when I first went there.
I was sorry to leave the Center in the mood I was in, but that I suppose is the changing face of the economic realities. No more Cold War and no more unlimited budgets. There is a lot of private space exploration but without the ‘marquee’ programmes that have certainly dotted my youth and teenage/young adult years. Most young kids now going to the Kennedy Space Centre will probably see it more as a museum than somewhere truly awe inspiring and thats a sad note to end my florida trip blogs on….
…which of course is exactly how I would have left it if Id been a bit more diligent and wrote the blogs in a more timely fashion. Since my visit to KSC and Florida Ive been back to Canada and when I returned early in 2013 a friend in Canada sent me a message on facebook with a photo attached. That photo was a nighttime shot of Belfast taken by a Canadian astronaut on the International Space Station. Ive spent a few nights over BBQs and the like looking at apps on the phone to see if we can see the ISS, the bright light in the sky and so I followed this guy on facebook. Over the next few months the stories, videos and experiences of being on the ISS were amazing. Col Chris Hadfield was putting the cool, the amazing and I would even say ‘the awesome’ (and mean it) back into space travel and exploration…..
…and all that before he released the video below. After all I said about KSC, NASA and space exploration this video really did bring a tear to my eye. Enjoy.
more NASA KSC photographs here
more florida photographs here
more usa photos and stock photography here
more travel and transport stock photography here
more daily life stock pics here
more conceptual stock photographs here