Tag Archives: NASA Kennedy Space Center

Revisiting Apollo 11 at Kennedy Space Center

Picture this: Neil Armstrong. 1969. The Moon.

The first human’s step onto the surface was a sound we didn’t hear. But the words spoken in the moment were heard around the world. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Fifty years ago, humankind set foot on the Moon for the very first time. A nation celebrated, and the world looked on in wonder.

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center near Merritt Island and Titusville, Florida on July 16, 1969. United States Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. were on board, while almost one million visitors watched from the surrounding Central Florida area. Just four days later, while Collins flew solo, Armstrong, followed by Aldrin, became the first humans to set foot on the moon.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, on Central Florida’s east coast, brings all of this, and more, to life!

Rocket Garden at Sunset. Image credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Included in admission to the Complex is a trip on the famous Kennedy Space Center bus tour. In addition to a tour of the complex, the bus makes a stop at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Inside is an actual Saturn V rocket, like the one used for the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. All three stages of this rocket are visible to visitors, and the entire rocket stretches 363 feet across the Center. That’s taller than the Statue of Liberty! This is one of only three Saturn V rockets that still remain in the United States.

Saturn V Rocket and Engine. Image credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, the Apollo/Saturn V Center at the Complex has added new exhibits that honor and celebrate that historic moment:

● “The Ultimate Road Trip” is an exhibit that explores what life was like inside the command module. Visitors can look inside the real thing and imagine what it was like to work and sleep on the way to, and from, the Moon.

● “Moonscape” recreates the lunar surface of the moon, showing Armstrong and Aldrin planting the United States flag in that iconic July 1969 moment seen across the world.

● The Lunar Theater shows the landing of Apollo 11, but includes a new entrance that is a reproduction of a 1960s-era living room and bar, perfect to set the scene.

● Moon Tree Garden is home to twelve trees, planted to represent the twelve manned Apollo missions.

Entrance Complex. Image credit: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Top 5 Tips:

1 – A brand new entrance complex opened in 2018. If you visited prior to that, be aware that the previous entrance is now for crew members and deliveries only. The new entrance is on Space Commerce Way. Check their website for specific directions.

2. The Official Guide to Kennedy Space Center is available as a free app. Download this app to browse things to do, create a list of favorites, view the official Complex map, and also see current hours of operation and weather. Free wi-fi is available throughout the Center.

3 – The United States Astronaut Hall of Hame used to be located several miles west of the complex, but has now been moved to the Center’s Heroes & Legends building, so it is no longer necessary to visit two different properties to see the exhibits.

4 – The Complex is home to a giant screen, IMAX® theater which plays different space-themed, large format films each day. Some of the films are in 3D and all of them are included with your admission.

5 – The Center offers additional add-on tours exploring different areas and ideas around space travel. One of them, the Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour, takes visitors on a bus tour to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, including stops at the historic sites from the Mercury and Gemini missions of the 1950s and 60s. These specialty tours are offered at an additional cost.

Kennedy Space Center is located on Central Florida’s Space Coast, near Titusville, and is open every day of the year. You can find out more by visiting their website: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Craig is a Florida native, who has spent over 20 years as a leader and facilitator in the Central Florida travel and hospitality industry. His specialty is storytelling, using it as a tool for service, motivation, and inspiration. He is on a quest to visit all 50 states by road trip, visiting National Parks, lighthouses, and roadside attractions along the way. You can connect with him at @storiesbycraig on both Facebook and Twitter.

Look up, Central Florida! Perseids meteor shower TONIGHT!

If you’re outside and looking up tonight, keep an eye out for a Perseids meteor shower! It’s nature’s brightest light show of the summer!

According to NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, when these meteors slam into Earth’s atmosphere, they will be speeding at about 132,000 MPH, and burning bright at around 3,000 to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit!

Dedicated star gazers will also be able to see Saturn, the moon and Mars too!

Here’s more information from NASA:

Determine Meteor Shower Activity Where You Live
NASA Meteor Estimator

Fast Facts

  • Comet of Origin: 109P/Swift-Tuttle
  • Radiant: Constellation Perseus
  • Active: 17 July — 24 August 2016
  • Peak Activity: 11 — 12 Aug 2016
  • Peak Activity Meteor Count: Up to 100 meteors per hour
  • Meteor Velocity: 37 miles (59 km) per second

Photo Credit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Photo Credit: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

2016 Perseids Forecast
August’s Perseid meteor shower peaks for U.S. observers just after sunrise on Friday morning, August 12. It should also put on a great show this year for observers in Europe, with some predictions showing an outburst of up to 150 or 200 meteors at the peak, according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke. U.S. observers will get a great view of the ramp up to the peak between moonset and sunrise on Friday morning, August 12.

About the Meteor Shower
The Perseids, which peak during mid-August, are considered the best meteor shower of the year. With very fast and bright meteors, Perseids frequently leave long “wakes” of light and color behind them as they streak through Earth’s atmosphere. The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers (50-100 meteors seen per hour) and occur with warm summer nighttime weather, allowing sky watchers to easily view them.

Perseids are also known for their fireballs. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material. Fireballs are also brighter, with apparent magnitudes greater than -3.

Viewing Tips
The Perseids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, though at times it is possible to view meteors from this shower as early as 10 p.m

Find an area well away from city or street lights, and if you want, set up where you are shadowed from the moon’s glare before it sets. Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Face whatever direction you like, the one unobstructed by trees, buildings or moonlight. Look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. If you have a group, each person should look in different parts of the sky. After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt, and you will begin to see fainter objects, including meteors. Be patient; the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.