I will never forget the very first time I saw a textbook photo of Aurora Borealis. I was probably 11 years old. It didn’t dawn on me then yet, but that moment became my foundation for my passion for the cosmos. I started wondering about the dancing lights, and later on, dreamed of walking in zero gravity or watch a moon rise. I remember my mom telling me the day humanity first set foot on the moon as she watched it on TV like the rest of the world did. I dreamed of the stars and what is beyond.
What I didn’t realize however, is the challenge to achieve those dreams. Come on, we all dreamed of becoming an astronaut but we ended up somewhere, better or worse. But some dreams don’t fade; they linger.
I’m in my early thirties and the space dream is still elusive, maybe even remote. But perhaps, a geeky yet an exceptionally romantic date at Kennedy Space Center is as close I can get. This day, even for just a day, was the closest I was to the stars. This date, courtesy of my husband, made me a different person, and yet, it reminded me of the kid that I was twenty years ago.
Or maybe, I still am.
The rocket garden was my first vision upon arrival. The sight of Juno I, which was used to launch NASA’s first satellites, Mercury Redstone, Delta, Juno II, Atlas-Agena, Mercury Atlas & Saturn 1B, the powerful rocket used to orbit the moon, was an overwhelming welcome! Hubby and I also walked the very same launch pad gantry used by the astronauts of Apollo 11, the men who first landed on the moon.
While waiting for our scheduled Kennedy Space Center Bus tour, my husband and I decided to kill time at the Imax Theater and see images of the Pillars of Creation taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. He is never a fan of the 3D glasses but I thought it was an enjoyable moment to just sit back and rest from all the walking :)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER BUS TOUR
My most recommended tour at Kennedy Space Center is the Bus Tour. It was a guided tour that let us experience parts of the space programs that are not open to the public like the actual sites where they view space launches. How awesome is that? We were not exactly at the actual launch pads but we were very close, so close that I thought of my Mom. She, like my husband, is one of the amazing people who fueled my love for science. She would be thrilled just as much as we were.
APOLLO/SATURN V CENTER
Part of the bus tour was dropping us off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center where I saw and touched a moon rock for the first time, which makes this tour my other favorite. Also part of their displays are the lunar rover and the space suits worn by the astronauts, which both, by the way, noticeably still has moon dusts. No doormats needed.
SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS EXHIBIT
The actual display of the decommissioned Space Shuttle Atlantis was the most pleasant surprise of the day. Seeing it in person after it has been launched like a rocket, orbited space and returned like a glider is a kid’s imagination come to life. Aside from the actual shuttle itself, a full-scale, upright replica of the shuttle’s booster stack was also on display as a gateway to the Atlantis exhibit. If this doesn’t impress you, you should wonder what else will.
Aside from the main exhibit Atlantis, there are also other displays that will surely catch your attention, most notably a mock up of the Hubble telescope, a screen viewing of the Aurora Borealis and the Apollo launch experience inside a simulated NASA control room.
JOURNEY TO MARS : EXPLORERS WANTED
Our last destination before calling it a day is the Journey to Mars exhibit. It basically showcases the future of space exploration. There are also simulations and interactive games all over the exhibit but our favorite seems to be the mock-ups of exploration vehicles such as Curiosity Rover, Spirit/Oppurtunity Rover and the Sojourner Rover.