Florida is a strange animal as far as states go. I recently heard it said that northern Florida is a Southern state and southern Florida is a Northern state. (I suppose that makes the Miami metro a Caribbean state?) I think there’s some truth in that statement, but we here at RSM are in a magnanimous mood, so we’ll embrace the entire state of Florida as Southern.
And one of our favorite place in that great Southern state is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. There is literally no other tourist attraction in the world where you can visit the sites of most of man’s crowning achievements in space exploration. From this sandy, swampy spit of land that includes both the KSC launch complexes and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station have launched everything from America’s first satellite, to the world’s first communications satellite to the Viking and Voyager deep space probes.
As far as manned American space flight, this is where it happens. All the greats have launched from here: Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin, Lovell, Young and so many others. In as much as it has been a site of NASA’s glory, it has also seen its fair share of tragedy with the Apollo I fire and the explosion of Challenger. There’s a reason they call this the Space Coast.
A visit to KSC includes the Visitor Complex, the Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Saturn V Center (located at the famed launch viewing site often seen on TV) a bus tour of the facilities, including a stop at an observation gantry near the shuttle’s launch complex 39A. You can purchase additional bus tours for a closer view of the launch sites.
I admit it: I’m a space geek. I’m raising my kids to be space geeks. But I seem to be in a shrinking minority. Over the course of the last forty years, we’ve somehow lost the romance of space flight. Some blame falls on a risk-averse society. Some blame goes to better thrills offered by movies and TV. Some falls on the bureaucratic hand-wringing that has turned our space dreams into just another political football. It can’t be forgotten, however, that the scientists and astronauts behind the space program (both public and private) are the great explorers of our time. These are the Columbuses, the Magellans, the Vespuccis of today. It’s time for us to stop thinking in terms of risk vs. reward and start once again boldly going. America’s dreamers need a reason to dream.
And I, of course, would like for those dreams to live in the South.
Here’s a selection of pics from a recent trip to KSC: