The Eagles have landed… at KSC!
Here at ERAU, before the pandemic happened, there used to be an annual spring trip to Kennedy Space Center with the Honors Program. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one in Spring 2021, but we did get a trip this year! Tickets were $15, which is pretty discounted from the regular admission price. The Honors Program also made sure that everyone had a ride and reimbursed the drivers for gas money.
I had never been to Kennedy Space Center before, but I’ve always wanted to go. So naturally, I took the opportunity the moment I heard about it, and I was not disappointed.
I ended up in a group of about 11 people, and the first thing we did was the bus tour over to the Apollo/Saturn V center. The way they have all of the exhibits set up is the same- you’ll watch an introductory video (or a few) before being able to look around at the complete exhibits.
I like the approach- it gives background information to the exhibit. After watching the first video, everyone moved over to the next room- the Apollo 8 firing room, where we watched a video about Apollo 8. The consoles in the picture are the actual ones that the mission controllers of Apollo 8 used.
That was breathtaking.
After that, we entered the main part of the exhibit. The bus tours came and went every fifteen minutes or so, which meant that we could stay as long as we liked. There was a well-lit Saturn V rocket, and walking around it really made you realize just how big it is. It’s over three hundred feet long, but you don’t really realize how tall “three hundred feet” is until you’re standing below it and walking the length.
The Apollo/Saturn V complex was pretty breathtaking. There was also a memorial dedicated to the Apollo 1 astronauts and a room with lots of authentic Apollo-era artifacts. One of my favorites was a spacesuit worn by Alan Shepard, and you could see actual moon dust on it.
After the Apollo/Saturn V exhibit, our group went over to the main area to get lunch. After that, we decided to walk back over to the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, where we’d started for the day. Some of the people in our group had been to Kennedy Space Center before and suggested we do the bus tour before lines got long, which is why we were kind of running all over the park.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit was awesome! It had the same sort of informational setup as the Apollo/Saturn V, but I’d argue that the Atlantis one was even cooler. At the end of the last Atlantis presentation, the projector screen rolled back up, revealing the shuttle and main exhibit behind it.
The Space Shuttles are massive, but they seem even bigger in person! After that, our group looked around and found the slide, which was at a 22-degree angle, which was the same angle of descent that the astronauts of the Space Shuttle felt. In contrast, on a commercial airliner, you’ll be in about a 3-degree angle of descent.
The slide was pretty epic, but it was nothing compared to the Shuttle Launch Experience, which was also free! It was like an indoor roller coaster without a track, and it was a simulation of what the astronauts on the Space Shuttle felt when they launched. Everything had to be stored in a locker, but those were also provided for free.
The last exhibits we visited were the Mars exhibits. They were pretty cool and had life-size models of the various Mars rovers- Curiosity is larger than I thought it was! The Mars exhibits weren’t as in-depth as the Space Shuttle and Apollo/Saturn V ones, but it was still cool to look around.
Finally, we visited the gift shop. Even though I didn’t buy anything, it was fun to look around at what they had. By that time, it was around 3:30, and most of us were ready to go back to Daytona since we left Embry-Riddle around 7:30 AM. We took one last stroll through the rocket garden before we decided to go back, leaving around 3:50.
Luckily, since we were so early, we were able to get really good parking, which meant a shorter walk back. Once the trip back to Daytona was over, we ended up going back to the parking lot. It was fun- I’m glad I went. If the Honors Program decides to go back next year, I’ll also go back with them. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle on a future trip!