The Kennedy Space Centre (Cape Canaveral, Florida), 24 Jan 18
“The greatest space adventure on earth”
Stephen Hawking the world’s most famous scientist and cosmologist once said
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up”
Life afloat often involves being anchored out on the water away from modern day noise, traffic smog and light pollution. Night’s skies are the deepest, darkest and blackest I’ve ever seen, dusted with more twinkling stars than you could possibly imagine. I’ve often sat in the cockpit and found myself staring up in ore of the Milky Way and the constellations wondering about what lies beyond the vast expanse of universe. Why are we here and what exactly is our purpose, sometimes I’m so lost in thought that my tiny existence seems so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Trying to make sense of it all becomes a bit too overwhelming for my pea brain to contemplate so I tend to go back to what I do best …cleaning or writing.
Simon and I had umm’d and aghh’d about whether or not to visit the Kennedy Space Centre. No public transport from Titusville meant the only way to reach it was by Uber (or Taxi) plus a $50 entrance fee for each of us. An expensive day out but when would we ever get to see anything like it again. I knew I’d have regrets later if we didn’t go.
The day started with a bus tour around the site to drive by the epic launch pads and Vehicle Assembly Building where parts are delivered from all over the world and constructed together into monstrous rockets. Unsurprisingly these are off limits to the public. It’s astounding how much wildlife co-exists around the Space Centre when you think about what take places here. During liftoff they burn 203,400 gallons of fuel and engine temperatures reach upto 6000 Fahrenheit but despite this it happens in the middle of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Home to wild hogs, otters, dolphins, bobcats, and coyotes even Florida Panthers. We drove past alligators and 2 huge Bald Eagles that have been nesting in the same tree for over 50 years.
Staff ushered us off the coach and into a cinema to watch the space flight mission of Apollo 8, of 17 Apollo Missions this was the first to successfully launch with crew and Apollo 11 famously landed humans on the moon returning them back to earth. Just stop and think about that for a second. For a species that evolved from apes to cavemen, who carved weapons from stone the human race built a rocket that could carry enough fuel to break through the earths orbit and fly 238, 855 miles landing people on the moon in an atmosphere void of oxygen and fly it’s crew back to earth. That is pretty bloody impressive!!!!
This theatre recreated that entire event as if you were actually there viewing it for real, the footage and sound designed to evoke the same emotions of amazement and elation that the spectators experienced 50 years ago in 1968.
In front of us was the Control Centre, with TV screens, flashing lights, endless switches and buttons “It must be a replica” I say to Simon “look how plastic and fake it looks”. Simon checked the program and laughed, “no it’s the real thing, that’s what stuff looked like 50 years ago!” Not like the modern technology we know of today, most of us own a smartphone. Its unbelievable and scary to think that one of these is actually more powerful than the equipment used to send a rocket to the moon.
Already impressed by the film nothing prepared us for stepping into the Apollo/ Saturn V Centre and seeing the largest rocket ever flown suspended above us. For each mission an entire rocket had to be built from scratch as nothing could be recycled, only a small proportion of it returns to earth & the rest ends up in the sea. The Saturn vehicle on show was never launched as funding had been cut before it was finished. The only disappointment was touching the piece of moon rock that turned out to be smaller than 50 pence coin.
After lunch the next stop was the Space Shuttle ‘Atlantis’, unlike the Apollo missions it launched like a rocket but landed like an aeroplane. The Space Shuttle fleet flew 135 missions and helped construct the International Space Station. The Pre-show projected around the whole entrance room was just as impressive as the Apollo centre even Daisy was in awe of the footage. I actually felt quite emotional watching and learning about NASA’s challenges in making the world’s first reusable spacecraft.
Daisy had such fun crawling around the mock up of the international space station which we’ve often seen orbiting the earth during our night sails like a huge bright moving star. She ran around the Rocket Garden and climbed around the children’s play dome spending most of time taking other kids shoes!
Space travel was never something I’d giving much thought to but the Kennedy Space Centre has been truly inspiring and opened up my eyes to some of mankind’s craziest achievements. I don’t think I will ever look up at the night sky in the same way again. It really was the greatest space adventure on earth!