The Americas travel blog

Space Shuttle Atlantis


Not too well this morning, a bladder infection and I threw up, so a little slow to get moving.

We feel a little more comfortable with the driving and navigating today and manage to get to Merritt Island, to the Kennedy Space Centre, without actually getting lost but not quite sure how we got there!

The Space Centre is huge and the first hall we enter is the Heroes and Legends. This exhibit details the early space missions, like the first American into space, Alan Shepherd and the Apollo 11 mission that put man on the moon in 1969. I can particularly relate to the moon landing as I was in Primary School and we either had to go home to watch it on TV or go to the School Library, I remember sitting huddled around the black and white TV watching this historic event in the Library.

We pass by the rocket garden then hop on the bus to tour the whole facility. We drive past the biggest building in the world, the Vehicle Assembly Building. The stars on the Nasa emblem on the front are 6 ft in diameter. It's enormous and used to build the Saturn V, Space shuttles and the future SLS (Space Launch System). We also see the trawler transporter that moves the equipment over specially built rock roads that can bear the weight of the machinery and cushion the load. Then finally we drive past launch pad 39 and 39A that saw Apollo and shuttle missions launched into outer space.

The bus drops us at the Apollo V centre where firstly we see the actual control room from the launch of Apollo V111 in 1968. From there doors open to reveal the 363 ft long Saturn V moon rocket launched in 1967 and the real Apollo 14 command module. There are even casts of Buzz Aldrin's and Neil Armstrong's hands, used to make their gloves for their moon walks.

Back on the bus to the main area and to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis. After viewing a short video the screen becomes a mass of stars and as the stars brighten we are able to see through the screen which then lifts to reveal Atlantis. An amazing sight, this shuttle bears all the burn marks and scarring from 33 missions. There is information about how astronauts eat, sleep, exercise and manage their time in space. Its so interesting and beautifully presented.

Finally we go to a presentation from Scott Parazynski who has so many letters after his name I cant list them all, has flown on 5 space missions and in his spare time has climbed Mount Everest! A great speaker and he has had a really amazing life. Well we have been at the Space Centre for 6 hours and the time has gone so quickly but it's time to go but we haven't managed to see it all.

We drive to our Motel which is not far and then head out to Vietriver Vietnamese restaurant which is not too far away and we have a chicken curry and a noodle dish. Not bad!!



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