May 8th --The Kennedy Space Center--

This is the second time in this journey to be moved by an artificial stuff. The first one was the Hoover Dam, and the second was the Kennedy Space Center. It was just three hours drive from Miami, so I had a half day to explore it. At the entrance I paid about $30 including official tour book. First I thought it expensive, but later I found that this center is more like an amusement park than an exhibition place. There are four places for visitors, a visitor complex, Apollo/Saturn V, LC39 (Launch Complex), and International Space Station Center. In the visitor complex, I saw many previous rockets, attractions, a full size replica of a space shuttle, an astronaut memorial, and so on. At the astronaut memorial, I felt the passion and ambition of those who devoted their life to a space mission. This really touched my heart.

After that I joined a bus tour which took me all the other spots. At Apollo/Saturn V, I saw a brief film followed by a simulation of launching the Apollo 11. The film showed the story why the Apollo program started. In it, I saw a speech of John F. Kennedy saying, "Let's set the goal to the moon!" This was really great. I thought I saw what a leader should be. And it was a tragedy that he couldn't see the moment of human being reaching the moon. After this film, everyone was introduced into a room where many controllers, displays were set in front of us. We could observe the moment of launching the Apollo 11 just like what happened in 1969. Last stage of this attraction was an exhibition of Saturn V rocket and other replicas used in the Apollo mission. The rocket was really huge and I realized that the team of cooperative, real professionals with a strong leader only could launch this monster.

Then the bus took me to the LC39 observation gantry. From the top of the gantry, I could see the orange top of the external tank jutting from the launching gantry of the space shuttle. The space shuttle was set inside waiting for the next launch on May 18th. When I trace back the transporting path, there was a huge building called Vehicle Assembly Building. Here, rockets and orbiters are assembled. The last place in this tour was the International Space Station Center. I saw the real size replica of parts of the space station. I thought my daughter may think about traveling into space with the same feeling as I have now for this journey. I went back to the visitor complex and saw one IMAX movie. This was also cool. I saw the view from the cockpit of space shuttle during landing. Everything here was great and new to me. If I had visited here in my childhood, I would be a rocket engineer or an astronaut.

One rocket in rocket garden

Boarding a full size replica of a space shuttle

LC 39, a launch pad of a space shuttle

Vehicle Assembly Building

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Copyright (C) Tadao Hashimoto