Space Coast Weekend

Kennedy Space Center Photos

In a surprise move, Vern planned a mini-get-away for the Labor Day Weekend programming Wild Mama to Titusville for a visit to the Kennedy Space Center. We had talked about a visit for a long time but have never gotten the chance to go. With a vacant weekend ahead, it was time.
Blast off was a leisurely 0800 from LaBelle. We were in no hurry - heck, I did not even know where we were going until I peeked at the flight plan. The skies were clear and we had a wee bit of a tail wind for the 50 minute flight. I note after having driven back from the Florida Keys last weekend for over 4 hours, that the 50 minute flight is far cry better. Coming to Titusville would have been a hard 4-5 hours - this flight was a cake-walk!tix1.jpg
Kennedy Space Center was not packed at all today. We got our admission tickets and made a beeline for the Shuttle Lunch simulator - how cool. We boarded the "shuttle" in the cargo bay while the commander launched us into space. As the countdown started and the engines fired, we experienced the "twang" of the shuttle shifting back and forth from the power imbalance, We felt the rumble and roarof the solid rocket boosters for the first 2 minutes of the launch followed by the peace of the main engines as we headed off into space. The cargo bay doors were thrown open and we got to see the view of the earth from outer-space.  How cool is that. We arrived back to earth safely and no worse for the wear.
We headed for the bus tour where we went to the Launch pad 39 area. The huge crawler was outside being repaired. It is the vehicle that carries the shuttle to the launch site. It crawls at 1 mph and takes about 8 hours to make the 3 mile trip. The launch pads were quiet today as Discovery is out there in orbit and will be landing in about 5 days. The bus tix2.jpgcontinued on to the Apollo/Saturn V display. We started with a short film on the Apollo missions to the moon and were released under the thrusters of the mammoth Saturn V rocket assemble. Whoa - now THAT was impressive. There were many artifacts from the moon missions and the mission leading up to the moon landings. There was even a piece of a moon rock to touch.
The final leg of the bus tour found us at the International Space Station Center where they prepared the payloads for upcoming missions. We also got to tour mock up sections of the space station - galley, medical facilities and some storage areas. The end of the tour brought us back to the Visitor Center where the Hubble Telescope photo display, the rocket garden and the history of space exploration exhibits were viewed. We finished the afternoon listening to Astronaut, John Fabian talk about his 2 shuttle flights. All and all, a great day with more exhibits, including the IMAX theater tomorrow.  

tix4.jpgThere was something about "Astronauts Hall of Fame" that did not sound particularly exciting but I wanted to check it out nonetheless. I was quite glad that we did. Upon entering the building you are greeted with the short video about Explorers giving you the sense of what you are about to see. The next room is filled with the various artifacts and memorabilia from the astronauts; some of their youth photos and histories and a gallery of all who have gone into space and on which missions they served. I did not realize that there were so many nor did I realize that some had mad as many as 6 missions. Most impressive was John Young who flew Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions.  The exhibit also housed some hands on type of stuff - landing the shuttle - Vern aced that one on the first try - and the G force ride where we were "test flying" a fighter plane when the controls failed. Pretty cool.   

The last part of our Kennedy ticket was to see the IMAX presentations. The first tix5.jpgwas landing on the moon - very well dome with a perspective of what the moon walks were like and reminding us that onlly 12 men have ever set foot on the moon. The second - and by far the best - was the International Space Station construction. With the 3-D effects, it was a real eye opener as to the views of Earth and the perspective of living and working in space. I would like to see that IMAX again - VERY well done.

By now we were starving and Karl Murray suggested we make a run for the Dixie Crossroads. I had seen it on $100 Hamburger but never  came because of the "Last 2 Mile" problem. We have a rental car - no problem. Our first clue that we were in for a treat was the 20 minute wait at 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon. Typically, we get someplace at 4 to avoid the crowds. No such luck here. They specialize in tix3.jpgRock Shrimp and seafood in general. I had a seafood platter with shrimp, rock shrimp and scallops - complete with salad and corn fritters. Needless to say, I was stuffed. Vern had the Mahi Mahi and could not even finish the whole platter by the time he finished the vegetable medley, too.

Our mini get-away concluded with a completely frivolous night at Andretti Go Carts and Arcade. I don't know how many times we rode around the tracks on the various go carts. I can't remember the last time that I even rode a go cart but it was a blast. They even had my favorite arcade games, skee ball and Ms. Pac Man. Yee-ha!!!