Apollo/Saturn V Center, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The list of things in which I’m fascinated is pretty extensive. But right up near the top is spaceflight. So you can imagine, my first visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida was a particularly special occasion.

With some friends in front of the Explorer mock-up

With some friends in front of the Explorer mock-up

I loved everything about the place, from the Shuttle Launch Experience simulator ride to the Rocket Garden.

The Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden

The Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden

And on that first trip, we even got to within a couple of miles of the real Space Shuttle Endeavour, sitting on her launch pad, ready to fly the next day (sadly we couldn’t stay to watch). But for me the highlight of the day was the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

T-minus about 40 hours - The Space Shuttle Endeavour on the launch pad ready for mission STS-123

T-minus about 40 hours – The Space Shuttle Endeavour on the launch pad ready for mission STS-123

With Rich, Sue and Endeavour!

With Rich, Sue and Endeavour!

Building a system to safely carry astronauts from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the Moon and back again would be an extraordinary feat of engineering today. But when you consider the relatively limited technology available in the 1960s, it’s even more awe-inspiring.

Even the arrows at Cape Canaveral are cool!

Even the arrows at Cape Canaveral are cool!

I can’t tell you how excited I was about seeing that Saturn V rocket. Before we went, a friend warned me I’d be disappointed. He told me that when he’d seen it, years before, it had been in a bit of a sorry state, exposed to the elements outside the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building. Thankfully, in 1996 (since my friend’s visit) NASA opened a brand new, purpose-built building to house the restored rocket.

The monstrous Vehicle Assembly Building - you could drive a bus up the stripes on that flag, they're that wide!

The monstrous Vehicle Assembly Building – you could drive a bus up the stripes on that flag, they’re that wide!

When we got to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, we were ushered into a mock-up of Mission Control, where we watched a simulation of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Mission Control Theatre

Mission Control Theatre

The Eagle Has Landed

The Eagle Has Landed

Then the moment I’d been looking forward to for years finally arrived…

The doors from the theatre opened straight out into the main concourse. Towering directly above us were the five the massive engine nozzles that would have blasted the Saturn V off the launch pad! Open mouthed, I just stared and stared.

My first view of the Saturn V rocket

My first view of the Saturn V rocket

Detail of one of the nozzles

Detail of one of the nozzles

Then my gaze lowered to take in the 363-foot-tall rocket stretching out into the distance, slung sideways from the ceiling of the building. It was breathtaking!

Underneath the biggest rocket ever built!

Underneath the biggest rocket ever built!

The Saturn V in all her glory

The Saturn V in all her glory

“Are you crying?” Sue asked me in amazement.

“No,” I replied, although my eyes did feel a bit glazed! Standing there was a dream come true. A real Bucket List moment.

Stage 1

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 2

Now THAT'S a few tank!

Now THAT’S a few tank!

Stage 3

Stage 3

One of the Interstages

One of the Interstages

The housing that protected the Lunar Module during launch

The housing that protected the Lunar Module during launch

The Lunar Module intended to land on the Moon during Apollo 15, but which was passed over when the programme was cancelled

The Lunar Module intended to land on the Moon during Apollo 15, but which was passed over when the programme was cancelled

A Lunar Rover

A Lunar Rover

The Service Module

The Service Module

The Command Module (the shiny, conical part) and the Service Module (the barrel-like bit behind)

The Command Module (the shiny, conical part) and the Service Module (the barrel-like bit behind)

The Apollo 14 Command Module - it's amazing to think that three men orbited the Moon in this tiny capsule!

The Apollo 14 Command Module – it’s amazing to think that three men orbited the Moon in this tiny capsule!

The Apollo spacesuits were spacecraft in their own right

The Apollo spacesuits were spacecraft in their own right

Ladies and Gentlemen... The Saturn V Rocket!

Ladies and Gentlemen… The Saturn V Rocket!

I’ve returned to the Kennedy Space Center twice since that initial visit. The last time I even got to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from Cape Canaveral on what would be her penultimate flight. And I’m confident that one day I’ll return, to see Atlantis in her new home there.

Lift off! Atlantis on her way to the International Space Station (Mission STS 132)

Lift off!
Atlantis on her way to the International Space Station (Mission STS 132)

But my first glimpse of those immense Saturn V engines high above my head will be forever burned into my memory.

IMG_7568This post was inspired by the theme Vehicle Details from Cee (of Cee’s Photography) and the letter ‘S’ from Frizztext (A to Z Challenges).

While you’re dreaming of launching into space at the top of a Saturn V rocket, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
This entry was posted in Adventure, History, Jaspa's Journey, Photography, Travel, USA and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Apollo/Saturn V Center, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

  1. Cee Neuner says:

    How fun was this trip of yours. I want to go. Thanks for playing.

  2. frizztext says:

    Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

  3. maddmombetty says:

    I live in the area, so I remember all the take-offs and landings. Spectacular views! Especially at night! And the double sonic booms at landing…

    • Jaspa says:

      We messed up a little when we went down for the launch, Betty. We were still in Florida when Atlantis returned to Earth, but had failed to take the landing into account and so missed it. Now we’ll never get the chance to see a Shuttle land. 😦

  4. Pingback: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge-Vehicle-Details | WoollyMuses

  5. jpeggytaylor says:

    Fascinating post and amazing photos 🙂

  6. Sue Slaght says:

    Wonderful when dreams come true! Great photos too.

  7. Pingback: Lunar Fashions at Kennedy Space Center | Jaspa's Journal

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