while in florida watching the shuttle atlantis head for the hubble telescope, i was able to visit kennedy space center and tour some of the complex close up. i saw the vab (vehicular assembly building) where they now prep the orbiter for missions. it once was used to prep the apollo crafts for the moon missions.
the tour also took us out to view launch pad 39A, from where atlantis launched just the day before. in the distance, you could see the shuttle endeavour sitting on pad 39B ready for a rescue mission if necessary. the reason for the rescue contingent is that the hubble is in a higher and different orbit than the iss. were a problem to arise, there wouldn’t be enough resources for the iss to be a rescue option.
we saw the landing strip, which is so long you cannot stand on one end and see the other end as it follows the curvature of the earth.
as part of the tour, we were dropped off at the apollo/saturn v center where the history of the apollo and gemini missions were explained. we saw the mission room including the actual equipment as it was when they originally used. a replica of the apollo vehicle which is the saturn 5 rockets, the lunar and command modules, and all parts in between. each portion of the apollo system and mission was detailed.
another stop on this tour included information about the international space station. we walked through portions of the modules and visited the ready room where new modules being sent to the iss are tested for compatability and assembled for delivery. we saw some of the japanese engineers who were getting ready to leave after delivering their next installment for the iss. we also saw them testing and setting up another module for a future addition to the space station.