Disney – part 11 (of 13)

The outing to the Kennedy Space Centre was truly educational – let alone a bit surreal to stand close to things you have only seen on TV before … for example: Shuttle Atlantis is big, but not as titanic as one would have imagined. Also, I always thought that National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Kennedy Space Centre and Cape Canaveral is really all one and the same thing. Nope. Trust politics to be involved.

All the Apollo launches took place at Cape Canaveral, which is controlled by the military. NASA has about ten sites in the USA, and they launch from the Kennedy Space Centre. Thanks to the then president, the Lyndon B Johnson Space Centre (often referred to as Mission Control) is based in Texas. From there then the popular saying
….  “Houston, we have a problem”.

part 11 01

Atlantis ended the Shuttle Programme when it landed on 21 July 2011. Atlantis alone made 33 flights, carried 191 space fliers, spent 307 days in orbit, circled Earth 4,848 times and put 125,935,769 miles on its odometer. During the 30 years of the Programme, NASA lost 14 crew members (Challenger (1986) going up, Columbia (2003) on re-entry) and 7 during training. As funding for the Programme was stopped, 4 000 employees at Kennedy Space Centre was laid off on 22 July 2011. The lack of funding was visible as we stood eerily on the side of the launch pad where the smoke and water vapour normally feverishly escape during a launch – only to witness weeds growing in the cracks of the concrete. Somehow on TV footage this site looks so pristine and clinical. Of the two launch sites, NASA will lease 39A to South African born Elon Musk’s SpaceX to be used for unmanned missions to send supplies to the International Space Station (among other- Mr Musk dreams big).

The Florida area is scattered with swamps, which offers another experience worth chasing: an airboat ride. It is a flat-bottomed boat, powered by a mighty fan. This thing goes comfortably over water, vegetation or land. An itsy-bitsy scary ride (no safety belts or railing), plus there are some nasty looking reptiles sneaking up everywhere.

Another item ticked off from my bucket list, thank you,  but I am not going to do this again. I can swim, thus falling overboard is not the issue, but sharing the water with these lovelies is not really my thing.

Continue reading Disney – part 12 (of 13).