You Owe Yourself a Trip to Kennedy Space Center
November 23, 2012
I had the good fortune to spend the last week in Florida visiting my grandparents. I was serenaded by mariachis at one of the best Mexican restaurants I've ever eaten at. I enjoyed the beauty of nearby New Smyrna Beach. I paid a second visit to Islands of Adventure in Orlando where I enjoyed the most elaborate candied apple I've ever seen (and enjoyed the wonder of Hogsmeade all over again). I saw an alligator. I went canoeing for the first time in my life. I went on a tour of the Lakeridge Winery and sampled renowned wine that only exists because of exhausting experimentation (which eventually yielded a grape that could endure the Floridian heat). Still, one of the greatest highlights of my trip was touring the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.
Originally, my boyfriend and I had planned on watching a real life, bona fide rocket launch, but alas--it was rescheduled for later in the month and we missed our golden opportunity. We did get to tour the Rocket Garden though. This gorgeous plaza contains picturesque fountains interspersed with capsules from a wide range of historic missions. We were both reduced to awe when we discovered that the Garden contained the very walkway that Neil Armstrong and his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts crossed to the moon's surface.
The fun didn't end there though. What trip to Kennedy Space Center would be complete without a ride on a shuttle simulator? Considered by former astronauts to be one of the most realistic simulators in existence, Kennedy's ride mimics a typical launch. The seats were tilted vertically, and we felt the incredible thrust upward as the launch process was explained to us. It was an educational and exhilarating experience!
Ironically, the Space Shuttle program has come to an end. There are still opportunities out there for would-be astronauts. The International Space Station is involved in a number of cooperative activities outside the Earth's atmosphere. There is a need for professionals in the fields of earth science, biotechnology, physics, and technology. The competition is fierce, but the payoff also sounds pretty incredible. How many people get to work in space after all?
One thing that gave me pause as I saw the sights was the connection between technology and nature. Too often technological advancement is seen to occur at the expense of the environment. Not so at Kennedy Space Center. In fact, there's an entire exhibit devoted to it. The Kennedy Space Center is located on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve. The Reserve covers 140,000 acres and is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals. The reserve and the space center occupy the same area and that is a testament to the delicate balance of innovation and preservation. I think it serves to remind us of our place in the universe.
The Kennedy Space Center makes it easy to believe that our dreams hold real power. That we can lay aside war and work toward a common aim. That the act of creating doesn't have to destroy the world that made us. That the real heroes are the ones asking, What if? Whatever your reason, put the Kennedy Space Center on your bucket list. You'll be glad you did!
North Independence Branch