Today, we picked up the kids at VBS and went to the Kennedy Space Center, got on a their tour bus and rode out to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. While in the tour bus, I found out that the Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour are obiters. The vehicle is called a Space Shuttle when all four pieces are put together: 2 SRBs (solid rocket boosters), the External Tank (the only part that isn't reusable), and the orbiter.
When you get off the bus you wait for this door to open that Joseph is standing in front of.
Entering through that door there is a 3 minute video that traces the history of the United States space program. After that you enter through another set of doors into the mission control room of Apollo 8. These are the actual consoles. The countdown begins and the first Saturn V launches the Apollo to the moon. When that stirring film end you come out into a huge room that houses one of only 3 Saturn V rockets in the world. If you ever see one then you know that they were not launched, because they were not reusable rockets. A rocket of that size and complexity was needed to get a human out of low earth orbit. Only 12 men have ever walked on the moon. This occurred between July 21, 1969, and December of 1972. Watergate and Vietnam was the two-fold reason we were told the funding was cut and those Saturn Vs were never used. (V is the Roman numeral five. I think the reason they are called five is because of the 5 main F1 engines. The Ares V will also have 5 RS-68 rocket engines which serve as the core propulsion.) We haven't been to the moon since just after I was born.
The exhibits were excellent. There was much to do and read and look at.
My daughter who is gifted with computer skills particularly enjoyed controlling a rover.
Joseph wanted to get into an astronaut van. However, when we got closer we found out that there was plexiglass covering any entry. It was a cool vehicle that kept the fully suited astronauts cool as they traveled to the capsule.
Another popular exhibit was actually touching a moon rock. We didn't personally get to step foot on another celestial body, but we did get to touch it. Seriously, you look out at the sky tonight and see a half moon, and you think "I touched that." (From now until June 18 the moon is said to be a waxing gibbous.) I heard recently that some kid today who is between the ages 6 and 16 will be the commander on our next trip back to the moon.
My wife said that the best show she had seen at KSC was of the lunar landing. Apollo 8 launch mission control was on one end of the Apollo/Saturn V Center and the Apollo 11 history was on the other end. Both of these were better than a 3D show with glasses. They were actually 3D and put you in the moment. Triumphant!
On the way to church the other day, my son asked me why do I like space. I thought that is a good question coming from a 5 year old. I told him about how it is inspiring. I thought about how useful it is. Innovations that are discovered in the quest to progress, result in so many helpful inventions and spinoffs. Partially because of Disney's "Meet the Robinsons", my boy loves inventing.
For more spin off links check out 1 & 2. I heard recently that for every dollar the government spends on NASA, $7 goes into the economy. Ultimately, the reason I like space is because it declares the glory of God. Psalm 19.