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.
I loved everything about the place, from the Shuttle Launch Experience simulator ride to the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“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.
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.
But my first glimpse of those immense Saturn V engines high above my head will be forever burned into my memory.
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!