A Trip To The Space Coast
In our opinion Kennedy Space Centre is a 'must-do' for anybody visiting Orlando. It doesn't matter if you're not that interested in space and the planets, just having the opportunity to see the launchpads and the space rockets is worth the entry ticket if you ask us!
It was stonkingly hot the day we visited Kennedy Space Centre, it was one of those Floridian summer days when you know that the electricity is building and that a storm is inevitable at some point. This meant frequent downpours while we were there, which was fine as there was lots to do inside, but there are a few areas that are uncovered and we had to dash for cover a few times!
We spent the morning wandering around the Rocket Garden, learning about the Heroes and Legends and looking around a few exhibits, before our lunch. We had booked to have lunch with an astronaut and we were all really looking forward to it. Lunch was served buffet style while Col. Rick Searfoss told us about his missions to space and what it was like to fly Columbia and Atlantis (so cool!). It was so interesting to listen to him and the hour went by so fast! After his speech Rick opened the floor up to questions and Abby was chosen to ask him a question - "had he ever got to space and realised he'd left something important at home?" He said that that had never happened fortunately.
After lunch came the part I had really been looking forward to - the bus tour out to the launch pads. I was really excited for the kids to see them, having visited Kennedy Space Centre in my teens I knew how amazing it was to see them up close. The start of the bus tour coincided perfectly with a rain storm so we were very pleased to be sat down in the dry for a while. First stop on the tour was the Vehicle Assembly Building. I remembered this being huge but I had forgotten quite how huge until we walked through the massive doors. I'm a bit of a space geek and I got a small lump in my throat when I walked into the building where Challenger was built. We boarded the bus again and our tour continued. Unfortunately there was lightning in the area which meant we weren't able to get out and walk up to the launchpads this time - damn you Florida weather! - so the driver got us as close as he could before continuing the tour. As we were driving along the kids were watching the small ditches along the side of the road to see if they could spot a gator or two, they didn't manage to see any but the driver pointed out a bald eagle's nest in the trees.
The bus dropped us at the Saturn V Centre where we got to do one of my favourite parts - experience the countdown to lift-off of Apollo 8 in the Firing Room. I love this bit and I get all nervous that it's going to go wrong, even though there's not actually a rocket about to take off! The Saturn V Centre has so much to see in it. There is a video showing the moon landing, there are tons of artefacts from the Apollo 14 mission and there is the spectacular 363-feet long Saturn V Rocket suspended from the ceiling. The photos don't do this justice as it really does need to be seen to be believed. We spent about an hour and a half looking around the Saturn V Centre before we caught the bus back over to the main complex.
The final thing to do on our day at Kennedy Space Centre was to see the Atlantis exhibition. I wasn't too sure what to expect from this and I won't spoil it for anybody by telling you what happens, but I found it incredibly emotional and there were a few people around me who all seemed to have something in their eye too! We had definitely saved the best for last, the whole exhibition was fantastic. The kids loved climbing around inside the model of the International Space Station and the big space slide! It is such a fun and interactive exhibition.
Our day at Kennedy Space Centre was fantastic and we are hoping to visit again in 2018 to see what's new - fingers crossed the lightning stays away so we can see the launchpads!