Kennedy Space Center, Florida

About halfway between the Florida cities of Miami and Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral is home to Kennedy Space Center and a launch base called Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This spaceport is a popular tourist destination, so it has its own visitor center and is crossed by public hiking trails.

According to existingcountries, Cape Canaveral, part of Meritt Island, covers an area of 567 km2 and is eight times larger than Manhattan, New York. The space center employs about 17,000 people and is managed by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The spaceport was named after US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was a strong supporter of getting the Americans to the moon. The first rocket was launched into space on July 24, 1950, a two-stage Bumper rocket. Since then, many other rockets and shuttles have launched from there.

Last time, on April 5, 2010, at 12:21 Central European Time, the space shuttle Discovery took off with seven astronauts on board. The crew is unique in that it consists of the highest number of women yet. The mission involves four men and three women – six Americans and one Japanese. The shuttle thus set out on its 38th and at the same time the penultimate mission into space, which is scheduled for 13 days. Discovery is tasked with transporting the Leonardo multi-purpose pressurized module Leonardo, which houses about one and three-quarters of a ton of equipment and supplies – mainly scientific instruments, food supplies, clothing and spare parts.

Currently, all launches at the Kennedy Space Center are controlled from the LC 39 Observation Gantry launch complex. There is a three-story observation platform that reaches a height of 60 feet. Here, visitors can view the model of the shuttle, the rocket engine and watch a short film about what precedes the launch of each shuttle. About 6 kilometers east of the platform are two starting ramps 39A and 39B. The administration buildings belonging to the Kennedy Space Center are about eight miles to the south. The most important building is the Vehicle Assembly Building, abbreviated VAB, where the shuttles are inspected, repaired and modified before each launch. The building is really huge, has 52 floors and the same volume as the four New York skyscrapers of the Empire State Building. The outer wall is painted with the flag of the United States of America, which is the largest in the country – the area of the blue part has almost the same dimensions as the field for American football. The building reportedly also boasts the largest door in the world, which is 456 feet high.

From the VAB, the shuttle is then transported to the appropriate launch pad using a belt conveyor. It is a difficult maneuver, overcoming the 5.5 km long route will take all day. Pebble-strewn paths from the Alabama River are used for transport because they do not cross and do not throw sparks. There is a blue guide line for the transporter in the middle of the road. The Shuttle Landing Facility is 120 meters wide and over 5 kilometers long.

Today, the area is open to the public, offering exhibitions of American astronautics, describing the history of the center from the first flight, through landing on the moon to today’s shuttles and a new laboratory in orbit. Visitors have the opportunity to visit either the visitor center only, or they can enjoy a tour of the launch pad at an additional cost. It is also possible to tour the area dedicated to the Apollo and Saturn project. The area also includes the International Space Station Center (ISS), where you can see several modules and also watch a promotional video about this station.

In the adjacent building there are laboratories in which a new space station is being built. Anyone who comes here can see the astronauts living and working here or even meet a real astronaut. Many people here are fulfilling their childhood dreams – thanks to interactive simulators, they have the opportunity to become a spaceship crew, at least for a while. Simulators can make you feel like you’re on a real rocket and you’re flying through space at the speed that astronauts fly to the moon.

If you want to visit Kennedy Space Center, it’s no problem. You can drive to the NASA Visitor Center by car, and local buses help visitors on the vast KSC campus. Space fans can easily reach more distant objects, such as the Launch Complex 39 Observation Gantry, a Apollo / Saturn V Center (with a control center and a real Saturn V rocket), the International Space Station Center and more. After driving through the complex, visitors will get back to the visitor center. From here, you can go for a walk to Rocket Garden, where you can see old rockets and modules for the human crew, or to the children’s corner (Children’s Play Dome). The center also includes a memorial to astronauts who died while exploring space and an IMAX cinema showing films shot in space.

Infrastructure development is limited in a large part of the territory due to the occurrence of an important nature reserve. Dozens of species of mammals and around 300 species of water and birds of prey live in the area. It is not uncommon to see free-moving alligators or an eagle’s nest built on a pole. The park protects a unique and untouched nature with a unique fauna and flora. In addition, it also includes part of the sea coast. Environmentalists were initially very concerned that the roar of the engines and the vibrations that would occur when the shuttle was launched would harm the birds and other animals in the reserve. However, according to research, this fact has no effect on their lives, the animals even gradually move closer and closer to the ramps.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida