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Kennedy Space Center -  Florida
In memory of our nation's best, the Columbia Space Shuttle crew

spshuttside.jpg (4104 bytes)As an interesting side destination for your travel plans into Florida, consider the Kennedy Space Center, where we visited recently. If bringing kids or if you are a kid at heart, plan to spend the day. As you enter the Spaceport USA Visitors Center, you can see a space shuttle (Explorer) up close, and walk inside to get a visual picture of the cargo bay, and to see the astronauts living space.

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Next to the shuttle are displayed the external storage tank and solid rocket boosters, which are modern day "re-usable rockets," similar to the ones used to propel shuttles into orbit since the first flight in 1981. These allow a space shuttle to reach a speed of over 17,000 miles per hour within only eight minutes time.

Although we did not get to see the space shuttle lift off (re-scheduled three times due to wind), we did get to see the interesting exhibits and the launch pad from a distance. We will be traveling back to the area in the fall to cover a night launch. In front of the Visitor Center is a memorial, dedicated to the astronauts who gave their lives in service to the country and to further space exploration.

See the Beginnings of the Space Race - Jan. 31, 1958

Jupiter-CThe United States launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit. Pictured here, measuring 80 inches long and 6 incles wide, it carried instruments developed at the University of Iowa. The findings included the discovery of a radiation field around the Earth, which would be called the Van Allen Belt (named after the head scientist at the college).  

Also, be sure to see the IMAX theatre, History Museum, and the Rocket Garden, displaying rockets, which powered the Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo missions. Or, catch some space food at the "Lunch Pad".

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