Edit Blog Post
Published: November 6th 2011
Space Shuttle Orbiter
The Space Shuttle Orbiter 'Explorer'
For one day, we had a break from all the Disney parks and we drove to the Kennedy Space Center. The first stop was the Visitors Complex, which was a lot more than just the usual tourist information office. There is a full scale mock-up of the Space Shuttle, with an Orbiter and then alongside are an external fuel-tank and the booster rockets. One thing I never realised is that craft that everyone calls the Space Shuttle was actually called an oribiter – it is the complete assembly that is know as the Space Shuttle.
There is also the Rocket Garden, where there are full-size mock-ups of many of the various rockets that have been used over the years. There is a Space Shuttle Launch simulator, which simulates the forces of a takeoff. It was very effective and I have no idea how they managed to achieve the effect. We also went in the IMAX Cinema, which was all about the moon landings.
The Space Center itself seemed to effectively consist of the huge Vehicle Assembly Building and the two shuttle launch pads. Most of the action takes place at the Cape Canaveral Air-force Base, which is completely separate
Rest of The Space Shuttle
The external fuel tank and booster rockets
and is where all the unmanned rockets are launched.
The Vehicle Assembly Building is the largest single story building in the world and is the equivalent height to a 50 story office building. This is where the Saturn V rockets were assembled and now where the Space Shuttle is assembled ready for each launch.
Running between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch pads is the huge track that the Space Shuttle is transported along once it has been assembled. The transporters themselves were all parked alongside the building.
There are also a number of various support buildings. For example there was the laundry where they wash all the parachutes used when the shuttle booster rockets are dropped and the hotel where the astronauts stay whilst they are in quarantine before the launch. There was also another building where they are building the replacement for the Space Shuttle when it is retired in a few years time. This will apparently go back to more conventional rockets like the Saturn V rockets used for the Apollo moon landings.
When visiting the Space Center, there is a standard tour, but also the Up-close Tour. I can definitely recommend
Various space rockets around the Visitors' Center
the Up-close Tour as that took us right up to the two launch pads and the Vehicle Assembly Building , which the standard tour did not.
The tour also took us to the huge Saturn V / Apollo Center. This has a full-scale mock-up of the Saturn Five rocket, separated into each of the key stages. It was amazing to see just how gigantic these rockets were. It also helped illustrated just how large the Vehicle Assembly Building is, given could house these monsters, as it was hard to appreciate its scale even when seen up close.
We also visited the various launch viewing areas. There is one quite close (still several miles) for all the important people as well as the families of the astronauts, as well as the main public viewing area that is a lot further away.
Tot: 2.087s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 17; qc: 71; dbt: 0.0521s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb