Today, we moved east to the white sands of Cocoa Beach and the space port of Kennedy Space Center. The beach here is great – a little bit of surf, warm water, loads of white sand (no shells!), and nice showers too! As for KSC, we visited the impressive Rocket Garden with the Mercury, Gemini and early Apollo launchers before taking the bus tour. There we were at the gantry, which is the closest spot to the launchpads that is accessible to the public. The view from there was great because we would see the mythic Launchpad 39A, the remains of 39B, tomorrow’s 40 (for the Juno launch) as well as the infamous VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building currently housing Endeavor (I think) before ships to DC). The other two orbiters (because as they insisted, the shuttle is the combination of the orbiter plus the fuel tank and two solid fuel boosters) were in the preparatory buildings. One, Discovery I think, stays in Canaveral while the last one Atlantis heads to LA. I may have mixed up which one is going where, but you get my drift. Next stop on the bus tour was the amazing Saturn V / Apollo 8 building where a full-scale moon rocket was suspended from the ceiling. Honestly, it was stupendous. The scale, the explanations, the separations of the various stages. A must see. Tomorrow, we’ll be back for the Juno launch and take that opportunity to see the shuttle exhibit. Btw, the kids play dome is great and worked wonders for my son.
For a four and a half year old, the space center was interesting but the beach and the launch tomorrow seemed to be far more attractive than the other stuff we saw. Also, comparing it to Disney and SeaWorld: far less people, slightly less of a tourist ripoff (free parking, no hidden fees, relatively friendly staff), far educational (duh!) and very nerdy. Hell, there were Trekkie stuff all over the place. The one huge regret: the end of the shuttle. None of the videos, panels, literature or even exhibits talk about the premature end of the shuttle missions and it is regrettable that I nor my wife or kids will never see a shuttle launch. Oh well, we’ll settle for an Atlas V launch tomorrow.