This year is the 50th Anniversary of Kennedy Space Centre and they have had some special guided tours to celebrate this. The tours are only supposed to be for 12 months so we thought we would take advantage of this and it would be something different to do.
We went on 2 different days as the 2 tours we wanted to do, which was the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and the Launch Pad Tour clashed.
It was an early start today as we were driving across to Kennedy Space Centre. I bought us Annual Passes this year as they had a special offer on for $55 as it is their 50th Anniversary.
The trip took us about an hour and 20 mins to get there which wasnít bad. We parked the car and walked into the Centre.
Wow, has it changed a lot since we were last there. The entrance is in a different place now, to the left of where it used to be. We showed the vouchers to enter and then went to Guest Services to exchange the vouchers for our Commanderís Club indentification cards. These are plastic, just a little larger than credit card size and have our photos on them. These were then put into a hard plastic holder on a lanyard. It puts Disneyís paper Annual Passes to shame.
Chris wanted to do the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) Tour, so we bought tickets for this and asked about the Launch Pad Tour. We didnít have enough time to do both so we are going back again.
We went to the bus and saw that there were only 7 of us on the tour which was brilliant. The driver was called Randy and he was hilarious, even if it was a little corny On the bus ride, Randy pointed out gators, dolphins, and manatees in the Banana River and pulled the bus up so that we could get a better look. We were able to get out, but were only allowed to go to a certain area and not near the river Ė the guide said unless we could run at 31 miles an hour as the gators can run 30 miles an hour I was more excited about the manatees; it was amazing to see them in their natural habitat.
The next stop was the VAB, this was completed in 1966 and it was originally built for the Appollo/Saturn V rocket assembly activities but was later converted for space shuttle procedures and it is one of the largest buildings in the world.
The U.S. flag painted on the side of the building is 209 feet by 110 feet. Each of the stars on the flag is 6 feet across, the blue field is the size of a regulation basketball court, and each of the stripes is 9 feet wide, the width of a standard road lane.
We went into the VAB and walked along the edge of the transfer aisle, this is a 700 foot long corridor that divides the hangar's north and south sides. The size of the building is unbelievable; I had to hold on to Chris to look to the top of the building as it was so high. Sadly Atlantis had been moved a few days before to a shed for the final preparations to take place before it is placed on show in a purpose built building. The building is completed all except one wall and once Atlantis has been placed inside they can build the wall and as the guide said, no-one will be able to take her away from us
Here are a few photos, that Chris took.
Back on the coach again and we drove past some massive crawler transporters and the road which is the equivalent of an 8 lane highway. The road is covered with river rock and designed to support the weight of the Saturn V and space shuttles along with their mobile launch platforms.
We were then taken to an area where the press went to watch the initial Apollo/Saturn launches, there wasnít much here but the view was amazing. I noticed that there were sandbags covering an arched area so I asked what they were for. The guide explained that the sound wave from the first rocket launch switched off the generator that was powering the pressí equipment. The concrete bags were built around the generator to protect it for future events. The generator isnít there anymore but they have left the sandbag enclosure.
It was here that we saw Gopher Turtles, the driver said that these are turtles that bury themselves under ground.
We drove past some old launch pads and then the coach stopped at the Saturn Centre.
I would recommend the VAB tour to anyone who is going to KSC. We intend to go back next year to see the Atlantis Exhibit when it is finished.