Over the weekend, SpaceX successfully launched the Dragon Capsule “Endeavour” from Cape Canaveral, Florida sending astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. This was the first manned spaceflight to launch from U.S. soil in 11 years! We watched from the living room in awe! How neat would it have been to see it live and in person?
Recently, we had a chance to visit Kennedy Space Center. We arrived early to check-in and waited at the gates for the visitor complex to open. Before opening, everyone stood with their hands over their hearts as the National Anthem was played over the sound system, and afterward, we were allowed to enter.
After touring the rocket garden, we made our way to the Atlantis exhibit which houses the Space Shuttle Atlantis. This shuttle was used to complete 33 missions and retired in 2011. The massive size and realization of all that has been accomplished with this shuttle is simply breathtaking!
The Atlantis exhibit also houses another exhibit called Forever Remembered which is a memorial to the astronauts who lost their lives in the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle accidents. You can read about each individual astronaut and see personal items from their childhood and careers. There are also recovered pieces of both Challenger and Columbia on display along with a video series detailing NASA’s recovery efforts of the two shuttles.
Next, we made our way to the Hall of Fame exhibit. Below you can see Gus Grissom’s suit, the second American in space, and the original NASA sign that hung outside of the original building.
There is so much to explore at the Visitor Complex, but next, we hopped on a bus that transported us over to the Apollo/Saturn V Center where we were able to experience a simulation of what it was like to be in the mission control room during a launch! This part of KSC is all about the moon missions. There are spacesuits on display that were worn by the astronauts, and you can even touch a moon rock! This exhibit also houses a memorial to the Apollo 1 astronauts who lost their lives during a test session when a fire broke out inside the capsule at the launchpad.
The day went by really fast, and it was time to head back to the Visitor Complex. We drove past the Vehicle Assembly Building, also know as VAB. The bus does not stop for you to get out and see it up close, but here are photos from when we visited it a separate time.
The stars and stripes on the ground are the same dimensions as the stars and stripes of the actual flag painted on the side of the building – just to put into perspective how massive this structure is.
We couldn’t leave the Visitor Complex without a photo op in front of the NASA “meatball” as it is humorously called.
This trip was a blast! There is so much to do, and it’s hard to see it all in one visit. It is so mind-blowing what people can and have accomplished in space exploration. I found myself awestruck getting to see history up close and personal. I can’t wait to see what American does next in space exploration! It is definitely on my bucket list to be at Kennedy Space Center to witness a launch. We are already planning our next visit!