Sunday April 27, 2003.
I spent the whole day in NASA's Kennedy Space Center. This
is the home of the space shuttle fleet, and the site for all of NASA's rocket launches.
I paid for the deluxe "Up Close" tour, hoping to see the facilities
in more detail, but actually, it just means that the tour bus drives a little closer to the launch pads.
When the official tour finished at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, I
was feeling a little disappointed. I had earlier learned much more and seen things in better detail by watching
the movie "Apollo 13", which I saw five times. That was until I walked out of the last presentation theatre in the Apollo/Saturn
The exit door of the last presentation theatre led me straight into
the exhaust pipes of a real Saturn V rocket! Oh my God!! That thing defies description. It is easily the
most impressive man-made thing I have ever seen in my life. I got my money's worth in the next one hour, just browsing
the Saturn V exhibit in detail. That was clearly the most impressive and satisfying part of all the displays.
The other really worthwhile attraction there is an IMAX theatre,
showing two different films. The first is a summary of the space shuttle program, narrated by Walter Cronkite, and is
intended to encourage everyone after the recent loss of the Columbia spacecraft. It was very good, especially
the scenes of shuttle launches, and the views of Earth from the shuttle in orbit. The second film was even better,
excellent in fact, and narrated by Tom Cruise. It was in 3D (we wore special 3D glasses) and was all about the construction
of the space station. Incredible.
Finally, the other big surprise was to learn that this NASA site
is completely within a nature reserve. The guide said there are about five thousand alligators living within NASA's
boundaries, and about fifteen thousand wild pigs, as well as three hundred species of birdlife. We saw some of the alligators
in the watery ditches along the road side. The alligators I saw were only about one metre long.