This weekend Jeff and I flew down to Cape Canaveral, Florida to see the Space Shuttle Launch. We arrived on Friday night and met up with a bunch of friends and Space Policy Institute students.
On Friday night we went to a few space industry parties - it was nice to get some food and drinks and visit with all the people in town for the launch.
Saturday was one of the highlights of the trip - we went on a VIP tour of the NASA Kennedy Space Center.
We stopped at the public visitor's center first, which I visited when I was 5 years old, and again when I was 11, but not since. It was really neat to see the Rocket Garden, and other familiar spots.
They also had a new attraction called the Shuttle Experience, which was incredible. It's a fairly realistic recreation of what it's like to launch on the shuttle - the ride moves and vibrates and the screens show the view. On the way into the ride there are all sorts of explanatory videos about how the shuttle works. If you ever get a chance to try it, I'd highly recommend it!
The coolest part of the tour was our trip down to the launch pad. We got to get out and see the Space Shuttle on the launch pad - it was amazing to get to see it up close like that.
We saw the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) - which is one of the largest buildings, by volume, in the world. Inside the VAB is where they used to put together the Saturn V rockets for Apollo and where they now put together the Space Shuttle before rolling it out to the pad. We could even see the next shuttle being assembled in one of the bays.
After the VAB, we went to the International Space Station building, where the (few) remaining elements of the ISS are being kept in a clean room. It was pretty empty, since the ISS is almost complete, but still cool to see.
We had dinner at Dixie Crossroads in Titusville - a traditional thing to do before a launch. The seafood was actually pretty great!
From there it was back to the hotel, were we tried to get some sleep, since we would have to wake up at 1:30am to get on the bus and go to view the launch.