Kennedy Space Center

Ad Astra

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Lila and I just returned from Florida. We did a bunch of different things while we were away. The first one was out of this world.

Since I was a child, I was obsessed was science and space exploration. Visiting Kennedy Space Center was absolutely a dream come true. The spectacle and the enormity of what NASA accomplished was incredible to see.

Nerding out about Space actually began the night before on our first night in Florida, when we got to watch a rocket launch from the beach next to our hotel. Perfect timing for a sci-fi enthusiast who had just travelled halfway round the world.

The launch was scheduled for 9:40pm, but that time came and went. We stood on the beach with Lila’s stepbrother and his kids wondering if anything would happen.

Suddenly the night sky to the North bloomed like a star had just been born. Arcing up and to the side, it trailled away from the Earth, followed by the boom of the engines reachng us. We stayed to watch the rocket separation and what looked like the Starlink satelitte dispersal. A once in a lifetime event for me. I was smiling from start to finish.

KSC gave me the same reaction. You arrive straight in front of the Rocket Garden, with a real Saturn IB on its side. There’s plenty on display to see after that - the Vehicle Assembly Building, replica test equipment, spacesuits that have been on the moon and are still covered in moondust, a Saturn V rocket, a Lunar Module Eagle, and even the real fucking Space Shuttle Atlantis, along with loads of other stuff.

A rocket launching from Kennedy Space Center crossing the night sky, seen from Cocoa Beach Vehicle Assembly Building Saturn V tail The Rocket Garden Saturn V Space Shuttle Atlantis

Some shots from the launch and the visitor center.

America as a vibe

When I was a kid, NASA and the Space Shuttle was the coolest thing I could think of. The NASA worm and Helvetica on the side of a human-made spacecraft always stuck in my brain. Seeing these objects and learning about their history was a real highlight of the trip.

Something else stuck with me though - how impossible it all was. Putting humans on the Moon and building a long term habitat in Space were the culminations of thousands of extremely smart people. America, with the help of a few Nazi scientists, did the impossible.

With the scorch marks on Spacecraft next to the Stars & Stripes, you can understand the wave of American Exeptionalism that followed the space program. There’s also several exhibits on the challenges encounter, like the disasters in the space program, including the Challenger and Columbia.

Coming away from the visitor centre I couldn’t help but be excited about the future. If you’re into science, technology, or space, definitely give it a visit.