The Amaz!ng Meeting 2003

Electric Monk - Kennedy Space Center - Apollo/Saturn V Center

The tour ended at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. As we left the bus, we each received a Space Shuttle pin and a 10%-off coupon for use at the souvenir shop. We then entered a room where we saw a short presentation that lead up to the launch of Apollo 8.

Apollo 8 consoles
Actual Consoles Used for Apollo 8 Launch

At that point we moved into a theater for a simulation of the launch itself. As pictured above, the actual consoles used for the Apollo 8 launch were arranged below us while video of the launch was shown on monitors. (I've had at least four people that I told this to ask me if we could go up to the consoles and play with the buttons. Apparently I hang out with too many engineers.) As the controllers spoke on the video tape, their stations were lit up, below. As an amusing bonus, while the coundown neared zero, the wall behind us lit up and emitted rumbling noises to simulate a Saturn V blasting off, (from a safe distance).

After that show, we were released to the main hall of the center where an entire Saturn V rocket (one of three remaining) was surrounded by exhibits and information. When last I had visited KSC, some 15 years before, the Saturn V was still outdoors, and there was not much around it. Here, though, there was almost too much going on. We spent about an hour wandering about looking, reading, and taking pictures of everything we could find, and still there were things that I see in others' pictures that I had missed. We were starting to understand why the two-day pass made sense.

Saturn V engines
Engines on Saturn V First Stage

The engines on the first stage are enormous. It is difficult to show the proper scale in a picture. The nozzles are about ten feet across.

Saturn V
Looking Down the Entire Exhibit

The picture above is looking down the entire hall, more than 500 feet. The Saturn V is split into its stages, so that the engines can be seen on each. Down the right side, there is a scale model of the rocket, open on one side to show the contents of each stage. Hanging from the ceiling on both sides are the mission patches for all of the Saturn V flights.

Apollo command/service modules
Apollo Command and Service Modules

I don't think that this was an actual Command and Service module, but if it was just a display model, it was quite detailed. You can even look inside from the end of the Command module.

Apollo-Soyuz capsule
Actual Apollo Capsule from the Apollo-Soyuz Mission

Here again was another capsule actually used on a mission. This was the last-used Apollo capsule from the Apollo-Soyuz link-up mission. It carried extra propellant, and a docking module specially built to connect with the Soyuz.

Apollo hatch
Mechanisms on the Apollo Capsule Hatch

As you can see, it is encased in plastic, and was difficult to photograph without a lot of reflection. There are many intricate mechanisms on this hatch, but no explanation of how it operated.

Moon rock
Sample of Lunar Mare Basalt Collected by Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17

A piece of the moon was on display, and available for touching, so we did. Scott made sure that everyone knew that it was there, so that no one would miss out. We speculated briefly on whether we were touching the rock, or if we were only touching the dirt and grease left behind by everyone else touching it.

Inside the LEM
Interior of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM)

In a little theater at the far end of the hall, was the Lunar Landing show. The next-to-last showing for the day was about to start, so we wandered in. In front of us was an empty moonscape stage. I commented that this must be where the landing was filmed. If the stage show was any indication of the technical sophistication of NASA at faking moon landings, though, it was clear that we really must have landed on the moon. The simultaneous video presentation was interesting, but the props were pretty cheesy. At least all of the shadows were roughly parallel.

By the time the show was over, it was getting close to 4pm, and we still wanted to visit the Space Shuttle display and the Astronaut Memorial before we left. So, we exited through the gift shop, and boarded the bus back to the main Visitor Center.

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