Kennedy Space Center, Lakeland, Cape Canaveral National Seashore

Thursday, 3/20/2014

We have been waking up early, we switched to Daylight Savings time and then into Eastern time. It is wierd, we wake up when we feel like we are supposed to and it is still dark. It gets light here about 7:20. It just feels odd. KSC opens at 9 so we got going in plenty of time. We got in, parked (for $10) and then got to the main gate where you get tickets. That took a short while and we were in.
There was a Rocket Garden that had most of the rockets launched from the KSC since the early 1960s. There were lots of different kinds of exhibits covering everything from explorer robots to the  Cape Canaveral Wildlife Refuge. A two hour bus tour of the launch complex was part of the admission.  We went by the Vehicle Assembly Building. In a picture it doesn’t look that big since there is no reference. Each of thoste vertical doors is almost 40 stories tall. The doors at the bottom of each vertical door open up to more than 120′ wide. Four Empire State buildings would fit inside. 9 NFL football fields would fit on the roof. It is the largest building by volume on the planet..

Two giant mobile transporter platforms moved the Saturn V rockets and the Moon Mission vehicles to the launch pad. Only a few years later they carried the space shuttles out to the same launch pads. 

There are two launch pads like this that were used for the Space Shuttles. There were more than 30 launch pads all up and down the Cape. As the Space Age unfolded and the Space Race heated up there ware launches from the Cape every 10-14 days. When the shuttles were launched more than 1/2 million gallons of water was flooded through the flame diverters in just a few seconds to keep them from melting. It was mostly steam from this water that you saw during a launch billowing out from the launch pad. This launch pad is being rebuilt for the new Space Launch System, a rocket bigger than anything before. The second launch pad is being rebuilt as well.

The bus tour stopped at a big “going to the moon” exhibit. There was on the three remaining Saturn V rockets, a Lunar Command Module, a Lunar Lander, a Lunar Rover, space suits that had been to the moon and back complete with moon dust still clinging to them and the actual launch command center.

Susan met a friend there.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is the main attraction now. After it landed ending the final shuttle mission and the end of the shuttle program after more than 30 years it was towed to the partially completed display building, raised into position and then the building was finished around it.

There were some very well done videos going in and then the doors opened and Atlantis was right there, tipped at an angle (43.21 degrees like a countdown) to give you sort of an astronaut’s view from space.  It is something to behold.  Something I worked on before it ever flew and now 40 years later its mission is complete.  I always hoped to see a launch but that never worked out. To see this in person, so close was pretty stunning for me.  

Atlantis is just as it was on its return, scorch and burn marks included.

The payload bay is 15′ in diameter and 50′ long.

My dad led the program at Honeywell in the 70’s to develop the shuttle main engine controls. Lots of meaning here for me. Pretty amazing!  

Lunch then an IMax movie on the Hubble Telescope. It was a very full day.
Friday, 3/21/2014
We went to Lakeland about 70 miles west of here to visit a couple (Larry and Nancy) we met last winter in Texas. They are Foretravel owners and live in an RV community in Florida during most of the winter and travel in the summer. We went for a pontoon boat ride on the lake in their community and had a nice lunch. Later we had carrot cake and a visit. They were fun to see.

Owners could have just an RV pad with water, electricity and sewer connection. Some of these may have storage sheds. More common is a house ( of various sizes) with garages. This one had an RV port, a two car garage and a golf cart garage. Most have two or more bedrooms.

A very nice day.

Saturday, 3/22/2013
Today we went grocery shopping. We were going to a farmers’s market in Titusville but they had closed it down. So we went to the Waffle House for breakfast. Actually, pretty good. Then a Super Target for groceries. Home by 10 and then off to the Cape Canaveral National Seashore. It is the north end of the Cape, north of the 300 ft x 3 mile long shuttle landing facility (SLF). Actually a runway. Everything at the KSC and all of the systems were assigned an acronym. Some were funny.
Out in the National Seashore there was a place where manatees are frequently seen.
They were right there by the shoreline.  Pretty big, up to 12 ft long. There were six in the shade. They eat underwater sea grass. They are distantly related to elephants and evolved from land animals. They like the water to be warmer than 70°. The water thermometer there said it was 76° 

Then we went to the beach. There were 12 beach access points with parking. They averaged about a half mile apart. These were the access points to the beach on the south 1/4 end of the shore. About 1/2 was accessible from the north. There was a big section with no access by car in the middle, just walking on the beach.

This beach literally goes on for miles. We were only about a mile from one of the shuttle launch pads. Lots of folks fishing.

Susan got to wear her “blind glasses” and her new sun hat.

We walked way down the beach and back. More than 10,000 steps. Wore down the bottom of our bare feet. Mid 80’s today, strong southerly breeze. It was very nice.

A selfie.
Another fine day. Tomorrow we will try for a farmer’s market in Cocoa. Maybe a quiet day. Maybe a book day. Maybe some more beach time. That’s all tomorrow. Moving up to St Augustine on Monday.

Roger and Susan

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