Thursday, March 8, 2012

The One in Which We Went to Space! #Travel #NASA

I know I have never properly about our awesome trip to Florida last summer. I do that sometimes, share things in drips and drabs. If you're a newer reader a have no clue what I am talking about, this past year, knowing that the space shuttle program was going to end,  I took a once in a lifetime trip down to Florida to catch the final space shuttle launch.

We ended up spending two weeks in Florida, filling our time with everything NASA, getting some sun, checking out the wildlife, natural preserves, and even went to Disney World. In the telling in drips and drabs, I have already talked about The One in Which We Got See NASA History and 
Gimme Some of That Disney Magic

After being able to see a space shuttle launch, the Kennedy Space Center was the favorite part of my trip. It's a place I have always wanted to visit, more than Disney World. The place is huge, and requires as much time as a theme park to really get to see everything. We used both days that our tickets allowed for and still didn't get to see everything that we wanted to cover. 

Here are some of the highlights from the two days and some info to plan your own trip. For the record, I am planning on going back this summer!
Kennedy Space Center is about an hour west of Orlando, not at all that bad if you are visiting Disney World. We were in Titusville for the launch, so it was a quick five minute drive across the causeway, just 15 minutes from Cocoa Beach.  

I think what impressed the girls the most was the size of everything. We watched plenty of launches on television and saw (and felt) the real thing from Titusville. BUT. It wasn't until we got out to KSC and saw how huge the VAB was, how wide the tracks were to the launch platform, and we were all blown away by the Saturn V rocket.

The other thing that we really appreciated, and is unique to this park, is the amount of wildlife. We spent a lot of time in Florida, and saw a lot of new wildlife, but not as much as we saw in those two days. The picture of the alligator up there, the girls talked about it for days because it was right next to the road and he had just caught a turtle for lunch!

There are so many teaching moments to take advantage of at KSC, and a lot of opportunity to encourage students to make some pretty spectacular goals for themselves, even if it is not in space exploration. I would definitely recommend that you stop by the Astronaut Encounter during the day, where a NASA astronaut is available to speak with and answer questions. 

One of the things that really got the girls attention before we made the trip was the role of women in space exploration. They read all about the Mercury 7, and then the Mercury 13-- the 13 women that worked to prove that they were just as capable as their male counterparts, but were brushed aside simply for being female. They are excited for the day when women will make it to the moon, and made sure to get their fingerprints all over that moonrock that was on display!

I know that people always say that there is something for everyone, but there really is. You get the exploration and history side of things, there are entertaining bits like the simulators, and then you get to see where it all happens. The only thing that we did not get to see that I really wanted to do, was the Hall of Fame so another trip is definitely in order. Planning the day was hard because of the storms that plague Florida in the summer, both days really bad thunderstorms came in forcing us to go indoors. 

If you want to plan a trip of your own, I would definitely recommend two days, get there early, buy at least one annual membership if you are a family of at least four. With one membership, you get 6 discounted tickets, discounts on food and gift store purchases, which adds up to a good bargain-- there is other stuff included, but those are the main budgetary benefits. 

Check out Kennedy Space Center to plan your own trip! And a note for Girl Scout families, there is a special, Salute to Girls event on March 31st in celebration of our 100th anniversary.