Saturns, Apollos and Von Brauns: Kennedy Space Center, FL

Savannah had been great, weather-wise. Not too hot, not too humid, a little light drizzle, but nothing to discourage our in-depth exploration of the culture. As I get to Florida, however, the humidity ramps up. It hasn’t gotten much warmer and it’s still overcast, but it’s muggy and cloying.

That hardly matters, though, because: space!

NASA

I’m at the Kennedy Space Centre to convince them to send me up in space. I figure they’re not up to much anymore and I’m pretty small. Big catapult should do it.

Rocket Garden

While I try to find the chief Sender Into Space Guy, I wander through the rocket garden of phallic symbols. I remember reading an article, years ago, from a woman who suggested that rockets were primarily designed as phallic symbols to account for males … something, wanting their wangs to explode, I guess. As opposed to, y’know, aerodynamics. As soon as they invent an aerodynamic vagina we’ll get right on turning it into a rocket. But back to NASA!

Rocket

Kennedy Space Centre is the final home of space shuttle Atlantis, however they’re still building a home for it, so in the mean time we head on a bus back in time. It was like a DeLorean with more Asian tourists. We arrive at a hanger to relive the launching of Apollo 11, which was the reality show version of the Tom Hanks movie. This one starred Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and That Third Guy.

His name’s Michael Collins. I always feel bad for him because everyone forgets his name. Everyone remember Michael Collins. He spent the longest time in the Apollo 11 command module, so he’s the most Apollo-ist of all three of them. Go Michael Collins!

(Not that Michael Collins)

Control Room

They’ve mocked up the entire control room and we get to witness the thrill of lights lighting up.

Control Room (Lit)

Then it’s on to the main attraction itself, the Saturn V rocket.

Saturn V

It’s somewhat difficult to capture the scale of the thing, but it’s mammothly impressive, it stands at 363 feet tall and, when fully fuelled, weighs 6.2 million pounds (which NASA points out is the weight of “about 400 elephants” which is metric I assume).

Saturn V

It was the result of the American ingenuity of German rocket scientist Werner Von Braun, whose earlier attempts at building rockets had slightly hit London a lot. Or, to let Tom Lehrer explain it:

Saturn V

This is one of the actual Saturn V rockets that had been left outside until the weather took its toll on it. Accompanying it is a model of the Apollo module, in which the three astronauts were crammed in for the duration of their eight day trip:

Apollo Module Still bigger than my dorm room.

Also on display is the actual Apollo 14 module, which Bertie went to look at:

Apollo and Bertie

Bertie is following Tom Hanks’ lead and is making an Apollo movie.

This one goes to the Moon, they collect rocks and play golf.

The critics panned it and it went straight to DVD.

Never mind, Bertie, at least it wasn’t Apollo 18.

Saturn V Engines

I was glad to notice that the Kennedy Space Centre doesn’t waste any time trying to appease the lunatics who think the moon landings were faked. Bizarrely, despite the universal agreement amongst nations that it did happen, some people still think the entire thing was staged. Buzz Aldrin has the correct response:

Rock on, Buzz, rock on.

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