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Return to Kennedy Space Center

#1 User is offline   IndyandMarion 

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:36 PM

Today I went where I haven't been since the fifth grade (And Im out of school by five years now): Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.

Wow. What a change. It's impossible to to do it all in two, even three trips. Luckily the annual pass is only 59 bucks, which is a must really for this place.

Headed out to the Vehicle Assembly Building and the launch areas (Photos will be available in the link below) and what an amazing site. It wasn't as close as I was in fifth, but still, it was a beautiful day to see it. There was an Atlas V rocket sitting on it's pad awaiting liftoff (Which at the time of this typing, should have been about ten minutes ago, and it's 21:57 now).

The Apollo/Saturn V area was just jaw dropping. The fact that they recreate the launch of the Apollo 8 mission in the room using THE (Yes, THE ACTUAL CONSOLES) computers used on that day on December 21st. The whole thing is recreated starting from T-Minus 3:00 and counting. As you exited the area you entered a hanging and you're looking up at the end of a rocket. Boosters/Thrusters and all. . . This giant is a built to scale, 100% top to bottom rocket used during the Apollo/Saturn V missions. You're walking around it, under it. . . UNDER IT! Words can't describe the feeling you get as along the side of it hangs the patches (Giant versions) of the mission teams. Further down, it begins to break up into First and Second Stage Separations.

Back on the bus, there's a gator on the side of the road.

Off to the International Space Station Facility. Inside, you can take a look at them preparing the next bits of equipment for the launch in May. You're walking in the catwalks, blocked off from the clean room environment.

Back at the main complex you have two choices of IMAX experiences, I'll skip those for next week's trip back. (Wonderful thing, 39 dollars and you get a free second day within a week).

*OK, I'm going to review The Shuttle Launch Experience, so there will be spoilers for those who have not done it yet, you've been warned*


Now, the moment I've saved for last. The most hyped, most talked about, most amazing simulation ever created for people who aren't a part of NASA to experience a launch. This is. . . The Shuttle Launch Experience and boy let me tell you. . .



WHAT A LET DOWN!

This? This is the new amazing "best ever simulation"?

OK. I get it. NASA brought in astronauts who have been on missions to space to make sure they got it right. Great idea. But they hyped it way way too much. In the queue line (If you can call it that) you'll eventually come across LCD screens of the astronauts who worked on the production of the ride dispensing with their stories of being strapped into the shuttle and what it was like to be launched. It's all setting it up nicely. I'm really into it (Plus, there was really no one in line). We're herded into the briefing room, which is just awesome, giant plasma screens. Lights, liquid nitrogen. . . part of me waited for the Alien to come out of the side wall. . . . uh, I mean, it's looking great.

So the preshow begins. Hosted by one of the astronauts (Forgot his name). He goes over what happens from T-Minus 10 seconds, what its happens every moment of the time until liftoff. Then how fast you're going at this point in the launch sequence, how far you've gone by this point. By one point you're going over 500 miles per second (Not speed. . . DISTANCE). It's actually a funny preshow. I enjoyed it. Unfortunately the setup is just too much for the ride to live up to. This is where the preshow kills the actual ride. We're informed to report for training. . . Wait, didn't ISTC all ready do this? The doors open and we're herded into another room. Mission control right in the center of the huge area. Training Bays (Im seeing a stolen pattern) everywhere. A giant sign warning that if you have coins, loose articles, hats, glasses, keys, ect, to secure them as best you can (Outside, they have you put your things in a locker, INCLUDING Hats and sunglasses. . . but I walked on with them after putting my satchel, camera and cellphone in a locker). Because apparently, if you don't, these things could kill you on the ride if they fall out of your pockets. Great, so I'm going to be an enclosed space with a bunch of idiots who may have brought coins on the ride, said coins could fall out, said coins could KILL ME. Oh, and I'm in the very back row.

*Catches breath*

OK. . . wait. A seatbelt? Tha. . .That's it? That's all I have to strap me into this sucker? Well, all right. In front of me are the three screens used for the simulation, it's actually cool that the system you see running IS the program that runs the ride. OK, so you won me on that part. Wait, why are there cameras mounted throughout the simulator? Oh, for those who didn't want to ride, got it. All right. 10 Seconds and counting. I've been informed that sometimes things go wrong, this is a simulation and the system might throw one in there just for good measure (OK, again, ISTC. . . They did this). LIFT OFF.. . . . . Is this a rocket launch or a really bad carnival ride that shakes me around way way too much? That's all Im getting. A massive headache from shaking around. . . It's as if I'm having a drink around the world for the sixteenth time today. . . Ooooooo here come the three G-Forces. . . The G-Forces they've been hyping up. OK. Stop right there.

Let me explain something. There's a roller coaster at the Studios. May have heard of it. Rock n Roller Coaster or something like that. Guess what puts out more G's than what they feel on the shuttle. . . .

OK anyway. Yay great Weightlessness. It reminds me that we need gravity or we're screwed. But this isn't weightlessness. If it was my arms would at least have some form of motion in an environment like that. . . so why is my hand staying in place in front of me?

Great it's over. Finally. Look, I'm really glad you guys tried, but I'm going to ISTC and use their simulations. Maybe because I'm so spoiled after some five years of using theirs. . .

I'll give it a low B- When you have a preshow like that, damn it, you better be ready to follow up with the ride itself. I think one of the biggest things that got me laughing out loud at the ride was the fact that they recorded the sound of keys and coins dropping and played it over the audio as the shuttle launched. It's supposed to be a REAL shuttle launch. . . . I mean, where would the program be today if we heard Buzz Aldrin or John Young say "Damn! My keys just fell behind me" over live television?

Good attempt but I guess if I want the true blue experience, I'll have to invade KSC and make my way onto one of the shuttles before they retire.


OK, overall, the trip was great. I'd sure as heck recommend it because it's one of the few places (Aside from Disney) that has a unique feel and it's "return again" value is obviously there because it's just impossible to do everything and read about everything they have there. With the current fleet of shuttle set to retire in 2010, it opens a whole world of possibilities for new exhibits and interactions. Not to mention what they can showcase with the new fleet comings soon and the return to the moon and the mission to mars (No, an actual mission, not the show from Disney) both around 2020.

Now, for the photos. The launch photos you'll see are from March 15th. These are not all of the photos I took today (Well over 200), but some of the highlights

http://www.flickr.com/photos/indyandmarion...57615420275069/
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Field Agent Indy reporting for the next World Showcase Mission
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#2 User is offline   YoPaulie 

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:41 PM

Great report! Thanks for sharing!


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#3 User is offline   Rinjo 

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:42 AM

great report! We went during out last trip as well and the saddest part is that mission space has less physical requirements than this ride. What a let down to my poor son who was waiting all trip to ride in this space shuttle.

Gret, great report!!!
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#4 User is offline   HDLady 

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:26 PM

Great report.... too bad the actual launch experience doesn't live up to the hype.... I've never been but sound slike a place I would enjoy! Thanks for sharinm, Indy!
Debbie
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#5 User is offline   IndyandMarion 

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 09:52 PM

Actually now have an Annual Pass to KSC Visitor Complex.

Here is a video I put together of the trip from yesterday:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=tObWJUKI6gc
Professionals admit to the problem. Alcoholics claim they have no problem.

Field Agent Indy reporting for the next World Showcase Mission
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